Synchronization between the body’s circadian clocks can prevent aging



“An experiment in mice reveals that a lack of coordination between the brain’s central timekeeper and the muscle’s molecular clock accelerates muscle tissue dysfunction. Reestablishing these communication networks helps restore proper functioning.”
Photo by Irving Penn

“Night and day are not the same, not for the eyes, the liver, the skin or the pancreas.”

The peripheral clocks — located in organs and tissues — receive this instruction from the central chronometer and regulate themselves to set in motion one function or another, depending on the time of day.”

“The deregulation of our clock is one of the clear characteristics that happens to all of us as we age. What we saw during aging is that the clock machinery, the basic one, the one that tells the tissue that it is this time or that time, that does not change. So if we wanted to find possible therapeutic ways to keep the clock in a young state in the old organism, we had to understand what happens to the clock.”

“The communication between the brain clock and the skin clock — are a step forward in understanding how these precise molecular devices work.”

“Human life is governed by a circadian rhythm (around 24 hours) that is controlled by a tiny biological clock located in the brain. Based on the light stimuli entering through the retina, this molecular device synchronizes itself and tells the rest of the organism the time so that it can act accordingly. Night and day are not the same, not for the eyes, the liver, the skin or the pancreas. The peripheral clocks — located in organs and tissues — receive this instruction from the central chronometer and regulate themselves to set in motion one function or another, depending on the time of day. Like a kind of orchestra in tune, all these molecular instruments that manage the circadian rhythms communicate, interact and work, in turn, with the necessary autonomy to make the organism function. This is how the gears of life work.

If those clocks that mark the rhythm of existence did not exist, aging would accelerate. This has been seen in mice: in functional studies, when animals were created without these molecular chronometers, they aged prematurely and died much earlier, as if a human died at age 40. In practice, the mice had all their genes, the capacity to express them correctly and perform their usual functions, but without these circadian clocks, they did not know the best time to perform these functions and the whole vital infrastructure ended up collapsing sooner rather than later.

These tiny chronometers are key to survival, but their modus operandi remains, to a large extent, a mystery: the scientific community knows they play a key role in the vital process, but is still trying to unravel how exactly these communication networks are configured between one another. New research published in Science and Cell Stem Cell by Salvador Aznar-Benitah, head of the Aging and Metabolism Program at the Barcelona Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), and Pura Muñoz-Cánoves, researcher at Pompeu Fabra University, who recently joined the multinational firm Altos Lab, has shed further insight on how these molecular clocks interact with one another. In experiments with arrhythmic mice, the study showed that a lack of coordination between the brain’s central chronometer and the one that regulates timing in the muscle accelerates the aging of muscle tissue. Restoring these communication networks, however, makes it possible to restore the function of this area and preserve its activity.

This is the first time the researchers have successfully tested in animal models a hypothesis they have been forging for more than a decade: the idea was that, in order to maintain circadian rhythms, each tissue probably has an autochthonous rhythm, which is independent from the rest of the organism. And that there is another process of interaction with the clocks of other organs to synchronize functions. “It makes a lot of sense that if our circadian rhythm is preparing us for food, the tongue, gut, pancreas and liver are all synchronized to know that they’re going to have to start metabolizing food. Imagine the problems that could arise if the liver gets ready at 2 a.m. and the stomach at 1 p.m.,” explains Aznar-Benitah.

In the study published in Science, the researchers designed an arrhythmic animal model — with deficiencies in the central clock, the muscle peripheral clock, or both — in order to dissect which circadian functions were performed by the tissue independently and which depended on communication with other clocks.

“The deregulation of our clock is one of the clear characteristics that happens to all of us as we age. What we saw during aging is that the clock machinery, the basic one, the one that tells the tissue that it is this time or that time, that does not change. So if we wanted to find possible therapeutic ways to keep the clock in a young state in the old organism, we had to understand what happens to the clock. And what it is telling us is that a large part of what happens to the clock is not that the machinery isn’t working well, but that the synchronization with other tissues, both peripheral and central, are what have changed. And we had to understand in which part of the functions the tissue does not need communication, and in which part of the functions it does need it and with whom,” explains the scientist.

The experiment showed that in some daily functions, muscle tissue does not need to synchronize. “If you have an animal that does not have the clock except in the muscle cells, that muscle is capable of maintaining between 10% and 15% of its functions temporarily,” explains Aznar-Benitah. “What is basic, remains. And we think that there is an evolutionary advantage in that, because if all the functions of all the tissues were linked to one communication, if a person has an infection in the liver, there would be domino effect: if the liver fails, everything else would fail. The fact that these functions have been separated from the need to communicate and synchronize with others means that, even if a person has a heart problem, the skin maintains its ability to have a barrier,” says the researcher.

The study confirms that the coordination between the molecular clocks of the tissues is “crucial” to maintaining the general health of the organism. In fact, experiments to reestablish communications between these body clocks improved the condition of muscle tissue. One mechanism studied was to subject mice to temporary caloric restriction- they only ate during the active dark phase (night feeding) — which researchers discovered “could partially replace the central clock and improve the autonomy of the muscle clock.” Circadian restoration through caloric restriction mitigated muscle loss, impaired metabolic functions, and decreased muscle strength in old mice. “Eating like this strengthens the communication” between the brain clock and the muscle clock in mice, says Aznar-Benitah, although he clarifies that these findings cannot yet be extrapolated to humans — nor can the impact of practices such as calorie restriction.

In the skin, for example, time is key: the internal clock of this tissue knows that the best time to promote cell division of stem cells and regenerate the skin is when it is not in contact with ultraviolet light, which is mutagenic. If cell division occurs when the skin cells are exposed to UV light, they can be affected by mutuations and errors.

What’s more, because these cells are dividing, the mutations [they acquire from UV exposure] would be spreading to daughter cells, which would inherit that mutation. What the circadian rhythm does is separate these processes: it tells the skin cells not to divide while there is a peak of ultraviolet light,” says Aznar-Benitah. His study published in Cell Stem Cell, which analyzed this separation between DNA division and ultraviolet light exposure, revealed that if these communication networks between the central clock and the molecular timer in the epidermis are broken, cell division occurs at the same time as ultraviolet exposure.

Juan Antonio Madrid, professor of physiology and director of the Chronobiology and Sleep Laboratory at the University of Murcia in Spain, calls the research “beautiful and elegant because it describes many interactions and answers many questions” through “very interesting genetic engineering work.” “It is true that it is in mice, but it is interesting because it reveals to us how the body’s circadian system is not a hierarchical system, like a dictatorship, where the brain’s clock rules. It is more like a clock federation where everyone contributes.”








Addictions Hijack the Brain : from alcohol and tobacco, to junk food or digital content



The algorithms are addictive. Who invented infinite scrolling? That’s addictive. The algorithms are a dopamine laboratory, which studies how to make these social media platforms more addictive.


Rubén Baler, neuroscientist: ‘We are guinea pigs. Our attention has become a profitable commodity’
He warns that overexposure to screens from an early age can have a negative impact on health




“Addictions hijack the brain, subduing it until it gives up on its most basic needs. Even eating and drinking — essential for sustaining life — are no longer priorities. But that substance or behavior that generates such brain dysfunction is usually just the symptom of a deeper phenomenon… the tip of the iceberg of a complex network of vulnerability and poor mental health.

Rubén Baler agrees with this assessment. He’s an expert in public health and addiction neuroscience at the United States National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): “We need to worry about what’s important, not just about what’s urgent,” the neuroscientist warns. It’s not about the substances, but rather the phenomenon behind them. He assures EL PAÍS that there are hidden interests and hands that pull the strings of the dynamics that are harmful to public health. From alcohol and tobacco, to junk food or digital content, “there are increasingly powerful forces that have an interest in these products becoming more and more addictive and popular,” the neuroscientist affirms.

The brain is designed to identify what gives it a natural and healthy reward. When there’s something that increases our chance of survival, a little dopamine is released. we learn from the experience and are better equipped for the next time. It’s a very delicate mechanism, which works like a thermostat: between minimum and maximum values. Evolution designed a thermostat that’s regulated by dopamine, which is what regulates reward learning. Now, in the modern world, there are things that can skew the thermostat and push dopamine release values to [unnatural] levels. This artificial learning is an addiction. Each individual is a universe. This variation manifests itself in different vulnerabilities and [levels of] robustness. Interindividual differences are enormous, due to genes and life experience.”

The algorithms are addictive. Who invented infinite scrolling? That’s addictive. The algorithms are a dopamine laboratory, which studies how to make these social media platforms more addictive. Especially for kids who gravitate so much towards social comparison — who depend so much on feedback from a community — all of this is extremely addictive and creates habits that are, in many cases, pathological.

We cannot depend on politicians, nor can we wait for scientists to save us. I think the solution is at the local level, in the schools. For now, parents can stop the use of screens in bed, because it affects a child’s sleep. That’s a vicious circle that leads them to get into risky situations… a lack of sleep alters the brain.I don’t understand why kids are allowed to bring devices to class, because that interferes with learning, class dynamics and attention span. It makes no sense.

We have to educate ourselves about how the brain works and [understand] that we’re being taken advantage of. We’re guinea pigs – commodities. Our attention has become a profitable commodity.

We’re paying a price voluntarily and the decision is up to each one of us. Either we’re zombies and sleepwalkers, or we take the reins of our own lives. Right now, we’re selling our souls to the devil, both our privacy and our brains. I understand how difficult it is, because this little device (he points to his cell phone) is everywhere and we depend on it. But we have to make an effort to see the good and the evil. We must try to take advantage of what it offers us for our well-being, while discarding the harmful effects of these technologies.

The epidemic started with prescription drugs (OxyContin, Vicodin, etc.). When we tightened the valve on doctors overprescribing these things, the curve of those prescriptions went down… and the curve of heroin began. When heroin started to rise, traffickers realized they could cut it with something much more powerful: they started creating fentanyl. Hence, synthetic opioids came along. Now, the fourth wave has to do with amphetamines that are cut with heroin and that appear mixed with fentanyl and a new drug — xylazine — which prolongs the psychoactive effects of fentanyl. But these are all symptoms.

We need to worry about what’s important, not just about what’s urgent. Why do people use drugs? What leads them to it? Misery? Hopelessness? Boredom? That’s what needs to be attacked. You have to look for the deep root causes.

There’s a financialization of the economy. There are groups that are very interested in the profitability of businesses: if we talk about junk food, these are industries that produce an incredible amount of profit, but the foods are addictive — they don’t help public health. [Digital content] platforms are addictive. The tobacco, cannabis, or alcohol industries produce enormous amounts of profits. And for the owners, for those who sit at shareholder meetings, the only thing that matters to them is the company’s profits… public health isn’t a priority. And, in that equation, the population will always lose. There are increasingly powerful forces that have an interest in making these products more addictive and popular.

Capitalism is the only system that works. I’m not against capitalism, but I’m against this form of overflowing capitalism that apparently has no sense of responsibility towards citizens. No brain — healthy or sick — goes back to the beginning. If brains are characterized by something, it’s constant change. Learning changes the architecture of the brain, but it can be good or bad learning. And addictions are based on learning through rewards. It’s like riding a bike: can you imagine a situation where you unlearn how to ride a bike? No. Because what was learned that way — with that intensity, in those learning trenches in the brain — cannot be unlearned. Addiction is the same: it will never heal, it won’t go away. The learning trenches are going to stay there. They can be covered with new, better, more passionate, more natural, more evolutionarily appropriate learning… but the trenches are going to remain. That’s why there’s always the risk of relapse.” El Pais








The emotional and spiritual effects of colors

Yellow furniture and decoration: Why not?


According to Goethe, yellow is associated with warm, joy and light.



When applied to an interior, yellow is considered to be a great way to highlight a place, give it importance, draw the eye to it and emphasize that particular spot.”







Oh, were you one of those who thought that yellow was a cursed color, a color to be avoided at all costs? Well, that’s not true. Some people are so superstitious and negative and disapproving yellow. The legend, Moliére died on stage wearing that color. Update your perspective: yellow has arrived as one of the season’s decor trends, and it is fresh, unadulterated, and resounding; there’s no hint of shyness or any intention of hiding. In his Theory of Colours (1810), the German scholar Goethe discussed the psychological and symbolic aspects of colors at length, including yellow, which he associated with warmth, joy, and light.

Wasilly Kandinsky explored the emotional and spiritual effects of colors in his book Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1912); he argued that yellow radiates from the center and seems to approach the viewer and move out of the picture in an unsettling way that evokes delirium. Kandinsky associated colors with sounds and believed that yellow represented a trumpet or a bugle.

It is certainly difficult for this color to go unnoticed. In fact, it has traditionally (and effectively) been used on traffic signs to caution drivers; such visual warnings could easily replace a good trumpet blast. Michel Pastoureau, the author of The Colours of Our Memories (2010), says that his first memory of color is that of the yellow vest André Breton wore when he came to visit his father; Pastoureau was only five years old at the time!

Consequently, when applied to an interior, yellow is considered to be a great way to highlight a place, give it importance, draw the eye to it and emphasize that particular spot. On the other hand, the color is also useful in dark areas, since yellow adds luminosity to any location that lacks light.

Traditionally, yellow has been used with some trepidation, in small doses, as a little refreshing touch in the form of a decorative object like a vase, a cushion, or a blanket. That was an easy way to not let things get out of hand, to keep everything under control and not take risks. But now it seems that this caution is being thrown to the wind: many of the major furniture brands have opted to use the cheerful and lively yellow in upholstery and lacquering for good-sized pieces, from sofas to dinning tables to rugs.

Special mention should be made of three sofas in bold shapes that are reinforced by the choice of yellow: the monolithic Tortello by Barber Osgerby for B&B Italia; the Mr Loveland by Patricia Urquiola for Moroso; and the Bumper by Calvi Brambilla for Zanotta. The Telegram rug, by Formafantasma for CC-tapis, has the unique attribute of displaying words chosen by the artisans themselves as part of its design. And then there are tables like Sorvete by artist Joana Vasconcelos for the Bombom collection designed for Roche Bobois. A wide variety of different chairs also opt for yellow this season, including the stained-wood Zampa chair by Jasper Morrison for Mattiazzi, and the upholstered Romby chair by Gam Fratesi for Porro.

But let’s not forget that color perception is relative. One of the designers who has most studied that topic is Hella Jongerius, who created large, faceted surface objects that demonstrate how the experience of color and form is affected by the way light changes throughout the day: color responds to shape, texture and changing light conditions. Jongerius is particularly interested in researching weaving techniques and believes that, like color, textiles are layered materials. In her exhibit at the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Hella Jongerius: Breathing Color, she explored the idea of chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul, who discovered in the 19th century that yarn colors are influenced by their environment and that colored threads in textiles are optically blended in the brain. Chevreul called this effect “simultaneous contrast,” a theory that has influenced many painters, including the Impressionists, who placed dabs of pure color side by side so that they blend optically in the viewer’s brain.

There are limitless shades of yellow, from pastel tones like canary yellow to more vibrant ones like lemon and ochre, mustard and gold. Depending on the hue one chooses, it will go better with one color or another. But in general, yellow goes well with grays, greens, blues and violet tones, which are its complementary color. Hicks, who left his mark on some interesting houses in the 1970s and is especially known for his bold use of color and patterns, knew a lot about distinguishing between shades. His granddaughter recalled driving with him in the countryside, surrounded by daffodils.”

El Pais









Are we getting tired of the selfie?


The surprising return of analog cameras

We’re seeing a recovery of the nostalgic, natural image



Researchers at the Boston Medical Center speak of “selfie dysmorphia,” referring to the disorder suffered by those who undergo plastic surgery with the purpose of looking like the version of themselves they see with social media filters.
We are tired of not being able to believe what we see, of being bombarded with messages that are not real and that generate toxic feelings for no reason.



“A generation used to unlimited access to information and tools is recovering the charm of objects that invite the opposite of smartphone’s immediacy. Interest in old-fashioned film cameras is increasing, especially for those whose childhoods are documented on film. “We take a lot of photos that last only until we change phones. But almost all of us keep albums from when we were little that are memories of our lives, places to return to and revisit,” say Cristóbal Benavente and Marta Arquero, managers of the Sales de Plata store, a stop for lovers of analog photography.

We are seeing a return to analog documentation of events: at festivals, people put away their cell phones and take out a disposable camera instead. Only once the film is developed does one encounter the final result, which becomes a treasure. Film photography is synonymous with beauty, melancholy and memory. It is also a limited service: since a film roll is not infinite, it forces photographers to choose with precision the moments to capture, creating an emotional bond with the subject, something which has been lost with smartphones. “Currently, we have images of absolutely everything we do and experience, whether it has value or not. Now, your wedding photos are interspersed with the image of the toast that you had for breakfast the previous week,” reflects Clara Sanz, Social Media Strategist at the creative agency Porque Pasado.

Restructuring priorities

Normally, after taking a selfie or asking for a photo for a potential social media post, there is an almost obsessive scrutiny of all the supposed defects of the face and body. This image is studied from all angles and, on some occasions, editing and filters are used, modifying the people who appear in it beyond recognition. Researchers at the Boston Medical Center speak of “selfie dysmorphia,” referring to the disorder suffered by those who undergo plastic surgery with the purpose of looking like the version of themselves they see with social media filters.

Alternative social networks like BeReal, which was born in 2020 to fight against this lack of reality and the complexes that derive from Instagram and other applications, offer a less artificial option. Members of Generation Z, who have shown a clear concern for mental health, have embraced them. But, as Clara Sanz points out, “from the moment you can choose the moment to take the photo and you can repeat the image, it loses a bit of its meaning.”

Analog photos may not be perfect, and everyone may not look their most attractive. But they capture the memory of a certain moment and what it felt like then, as well as a window to understand how others see: “Analog photography is authenticity and reality. It’s seeing your birthday photos around a cake with a stain on the tablecloth. It is having chocolate on your cheek and remembering how much fun you had at those parties,” says Sanz.

These imperfections are what millennials miss so much. The youth of Generation Z long for what they never experienced. The rise of analog cameras comes as a response to the need for naturalness lost after so many years of feigned perfection. Photography once again becomes a means of expression and a tool to materialize memories. In the case of disposable cameras, there is also the added attraction of not knowing what the result will be like until the roll is developed, which for many young people is a totally new experience.

The owners of Sales de Plata say that they receive a lot of questions every day regarding the management and characteristics of cameras, since many people who are curious about the subject have never had contact with it before, not even as children. “The curious thing is that the question is very common among older people: does this still exist? There is a great difference in perspective according to age regarding analog photography: those who see it as a creative medium full of possibilities and those who experienced its decline in the early 2000s, sold all their equipment and feel that it is obsolete,” say Benavente and Arquero.

Nostalgia without filters

There are countless photo editing tools that create a vintage look. This fixation has existed for a while. Many young adults now remember those teenage years when they spent hours in front of the computer screen visiting Tumblr accounts where this aesthetic reigned. It was common to want to live inside the music videos for Lana Del Rey’s Video Games and Summertime Sadness, which were suffused with the romanticism of home videos, found footage — fake documentaries— and, in general, a nostalgic, dreamy atmosphere.

“Going back to the past means returning to comfort, to the familiar, to the place where one feels safe. Perhaps this explains why there are now young kids taking photos at trap concerts with cell phones from years ago and taking the trouble to transfer these photos to the computer. Or people shooting video clips with MiniDV cameras. It is the same type of nostalgia that Wim Wenders includes in the film Paris, Texas, scenes from years ago in Super 8 films: it takes us back,” conclude Benavente and Arquero.

Hashtags like #filmphotography have over 40 millions followers on Instagram. In videos on social media, couples imitate photographs of their parents when they were their age, filling social networks with flashbacks to the 1980s and 1990s. “People want to feel natural again, to have references on which to base ourselves without fearing that everything is false. We are tired of not being able to believe what we see, of being bombarded with messages that are not real and that generate toxic feelings for no reason. I think it is a trend that should be maintained and promoted by all creators and that would give them added value,” says Sanz regarding the trend of images taken with analog cameras on social networks.

The analog camera industry experienced an evident decline with the arrival of digitalization. In 2012, the journalist Ramón Peco wondered in an article in this newspaper whether analog photography would survive. “It may seem like a romantic statement, and it probably is, but we must not forget that the photography business fuels many dreams. And for some, those dreams cannot be captured with digital technology,” he reflected at the time.

Maybe that is the crux of the matter. Charlotte Wells manages to capture all that melancholy with Sophie’s home videos in the film Aftersun. It is not a coincidence that a film about memory and the survival of images in the brain revolves around those files, nor that the memory of Sophie’s last night with her father in Turkey is an instant photograph taken with a Polaroid. That crucial moment, materialized with an analog camera, is physical proof that all those scenes existed, even though they are now blurred and confused with those in your mind. The Polaroid stops being an image and becomes a treasure, something that can still be touched when everything else is gone.

As Y2K becomes fashionable again, so has the use of digital cameras. Surely many millennials remember carrying one in their bag alongside their keys or mobile phone, as well as arriving home after a gathering with friends or a trip, plugging it into the computer and downloading all the photos. They may remember the flash that dyed the eyes red and the skin nuclear white. Now, social media influencers are recovering those cameras: they may appear in videos in which current couples imitate their parents’ photos, filling Instagram with a retro aesthetic thanks to digital cameras.”








The dark web’s two faces:
Charity fundraisers alongside extortion and kidnapping



“The well-known web we access daily through popular browsers represents just 5% of the internet. It’s just the surface of the deep web ocean of information that is intentionally hidden or not meant to be easily accessed.”



“90 million cyber attacks worldwide, costing $11.5 billion

Internet criminals, responsible for 84% of global scams, uphold codes of conduct and an arbitration system to govern their society


The dark web harbors a wide range of sinister activities like murder for hire, weapons and illegal drugs for sale, distribution of child pornography, as well as robbery, kidnapping, extortion and infrastructure sabotage. It represents the most nefarious recesses of the internet. Yet even this criminal realm lives by a set of norms and rules. “They have their own code, although we must never forget that they are criminals,” said Sergey Shaykevich, director of Check Point Software’s Threat Group during CPX Vienna cybersecurity summit. “84% of all scams happen online,” said Juan Salom Clotet, chief of Spain’s Cybersecurity Coordination Unit (Civil Guard). This same dark web organizes charity fundraisers, celebrates holidays, disciplines inappropriate behavior and has its own “judicial system.”

The well-known web we access daily through popular browsers represents just 5% of the internet. It’s just the surface of the deep web ocean of information that is intentionally hidden or not meant to be easily accessed. Kaspersky security researcher Marc Rivero said, “The deep web covers anything not picked up by regular search engines, like sites needing logins and private material. On the other hand, the dark web- a slice of the deep web – is all about using hidden networks to keep users and sites anonymous. It’s commonly associated with illegal activity.”

“The deep web serves both legitimate and questionable purposes,” said Rivero. “It includes secure communication platforms for sharing information, uncensored social networks and support groups. It grants access to restricted data like academic or government documents, specialized forums for knowledge exchange, and entertainment sources such as digital marketplaces, gambling sites and online gaming platforms.”

Living on the deepest ocean floor of the deep web is a small criminal network that, according to Telefónica Tech’s María Jesús Almanzor, launches “90 million cyber attacks worldwide, costing 10.5 billion euros [$11.5 billion]. If cybercrime were a country, it would rank as the world’s third largest economy, after the United States and China.” Shaykevich researches this part of the web using “isolated computers and technical precautions” to defend against the rampant malware there.

To access the deep and dark web, browsers like Tor, Subgraph, Waterfox and I2P are used. Tor (short for The Onion Router) functions by connecting randomly to an entry node, forming a circuit of encrypted intermediate nodes for secure data transmission. The traffic within the circuit remains anonymous, with the entry and exit points being the most vulnerable.

“Tor was not designed for crime,” said Ghimiray, but criminals quickly recognized and leveraged its capabilities. Silk Road was one of the first. The dark web marketplace was created by Ross Ulbricht in 2011, and was shut down two years later by the FBI. Ulbricht, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, is now serving a life sentence for money laundering, computer hijacking, and drug trafficking conspiracy.

“Accessing the dark web isn’t technically difficult – just download a specialized browser. But it’s risky. All sorts of malware, scams and more lurk there. Be cautious, protect yourself with security software, a firewall and a VPN for privacy,” warned Rivero.

Shaykevich says that accessing the dark web’s sewers typically involves an “invitation from a criminal mafia member or undergoing an investigation by them.” Rivero elaborated: “Some forums are public, allowing anyone to register, while others are exclusive and involve a strict selection process. Usually, methods like invitations by existing members or administrators are used, relying on recommendations from within the community. Some forums may ask users to fill out an application or undergo an interview to assess their suitability. Others might require users to demonstrate knowledge on a specific topic through exams or test posts, or be recommended by reputable dark web users.”

Once you pass these tests, the underworld of the internet is surprisingly similar to the rest of the world. “They’ve got their own chats and even use these hidden Telegram channels to hire services or show off what they’ve done, putting the names of their victims out there,” said Rivero. He also described an arbitration system used to resolve user disputes, like the one that dismantled the LockBit extortion group after it failed to equitably distribute the ransom from a kidnapping. The dark web forums held a trial, heard an appeal and issued a final conviction. “After that, it was really tough for them to work again because they lost their credibility, which is key in the dark web.”

In the underworld, you can easily find data belonging to regular internet users (Google One will check if your accounts are compromised or available on the dark web). The web pages tend to be simple, since no marketing strategy or search engine optimization is needed. The dark web also has user forums and chat apps like the regular world.

Shaykevich remembers Conti, a kidnapping and extortion group that supposedly disbanded after a leak. They once had “200 people and physical offices in Moscow. We analyzed leaked chats ranging from notices about freshly painted doors, to warnings about discussing malware in the building’s cafeteria.”

“The dark world is not that different from the real world,” said Shaykevich. “They throw parties, go on vacations, and even raise money for orphanages. They’re just people – yes, criminals – but they’ve got kids and some think they’re moral people. Some ransomware crews absolutely refuse to hit hospitals, and also steer clear of ex-Soviet countries. But let’s not forget – they’re still criminals.”

Attacks on institutions like hospitals are considered highly reprehensible in a world where successful robberies and kidnappings are used as part of publicity strategies. “Being a hacker is like running a business without integrity. They kidnap and extort people. But the worst is when they target a hospital, because they can kill people. And it’s all for money,” said Check Point VP Francisco Criado.







Main Key to Happiness: Willpower
Those who understand the importance of making efforts will build up strong self-esteem and will be able to overcome the bumps that come their way





“Efforts and perseverances should become the backbone of the education.”


“We live in a society where achieving anything appears easy. Where everything seems affordable, and people can get everything they want with a click of a mouse. Where we seek instant reward but talk little about error, frustration or effort. This misunderstood success leads one to think that we can achieve things without putting our soul into it, and that strokes of luck determine what one is capable of achieving or not. For families, when raising a child, effort and perseverance should become the backbone of their education. Teach them that their success in life will not depend on their ability to accumulate content or procedures, but rather on their ability to work hard and not give up when things get complicated.

Willpower is the ability to focus our attention and effort on something to achieve a goal. The habit that allows a person to move forward with perseverance when things get difficult, when a setback or a bad result sends their motivation plummeting to rock bottom. Willpower is a force that brings you closer to what you want, that deafens excuses and gives you the power to achieve what you don’t have, thanks to work. Perseverance provides stability and resistance in the face of setbacks, confidence in oneself and also in others, and large doses of self-esteem.

From a very young age, a child must learn to make an effort to get what they want because throughout their life, they will have to face numerous uncomfortable and complicated situations that will make them doubt their abilities. A child who integrates perseverance and willpower into their daily life will grow by building a positive self-image and will be able to overcome the stumbling blocks in their path. They will ask for help when they need it without feeling ashamed, and will understand that mistakes are an essential part of the learning process.

On the contrary, a child who does not develop perseverance and ability to put in effort will find it difficult to tolerate frustration and understand that mistakes are an essential part of learning. They will tend to blame others for their mistakes and depend on the adults around them to get what they want. They will be an insecure child with little personal initiative.

Teaching a child to get what they want with dedication and patience will turn them into a brave and autonomous person who wants to explore their environment freely and without fear, who wants to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their choices. If parents overprotect their child to prevent them from becoming frustrated or disappointed, they will only be preventing the child from acquiring the necessary skills to be able to face their difficulties with tenacity and confidence. They will turn them into an insecure child who is unable to cope with their problems.

Keys to educating a child on the importance of perseverance and effort:

  • Help the child to set small daily challenges that are achievable, to commit to themselves without doubting their worth and work. You also have to help them design the program by planning each of the steps they will have to take to achieve what they propose, being aware that, throughout their life, they will have to overcome many stumbling blocks.
  • Get them to understand and accept that they will make mistakes on their path, and that there is nothing wrong with that. Being compassionate with themselves when there are setbacks and learning from these moments will teach them how to move forward, little by little in their projects.
  • Teach the child to be patient and to understand that much of what they want to achieve is done through work and effort. They must learn to postpone the reward until they have fulfilled their commitments and not to depend on chance or fortune, but on work and commitment. They must be taught to understand success as the ability to enjoy everyday life, to be grateful for everything good that happens to them.
  • Demonstrate by example, with words of encouragement and affection that shows you are by their side, supporting them unconditionally, without judging their mistakes. Help them to properly manage and express emotions, to master impatience and indecision, to overcome bad moods when things go wrong.

Perseverance and willpower are the foundation for building the dreams we long for. A child who is capable of striving and working to achieve what excites and thrills them will build up determination, curiosity and optimism. They will show commitment without procrastinating or making excuses for bad luck or blaming others for their own setbacks. As the German physicist Albert Einstein said: “There is a driving force more powerful than steam, electricity and nuclear power: the will.”

El Pais







We cannot normalize having 10-year-old children working as influencers:
The challenge of controlling underage content creators


The problem is linking happiness to that idealized physical image, as that only leads to frustration.


Psychologist Lorena González:  “We cannot normalize having 10-year-old children working as influencers. It should be penalized…Children learn what we teach them. We are their role models. If parents normalize this online overexposure, then this will be normal for them, although we still do not know the consequences.”


“Some of the influencer children of the Alpha generation — those born after 2010 — have more millions in the bank than years of age. They have acquired world fame on platforms like TikTok because they speak, make themselves up and dance just like the influencers they have been mimicking all of their lives.

One recent example are the so-called Sephora kids: this trend has filled the social networks with videos featuring hundreds of 10-year-old girls who get their hands on as many of the brand’s makeup products as they can to do skin care routines for their followers.

Garza Crew’s TikTok account has 4.9 million followers. The videos, made by her mother, show her as a 7-year-old American girl who, baby teeth and all, presents her makeup routines and the products that she buys like a professional. She also takes the time to talk about what it means to be a Gen Alpha influencer: “Of course we are obsessed with skin care. Of course our favorite stores are Sephora and Ulta. Of course we don’t have toys.” The star of the Garza Crew videos claims that she has been buying makeup with her sister, who is the same age, since they were both six years old. All her videos are monetized.

In September, Forbes magazine published the ranking of last year’s top creators, “the social media stars turning followers into fortunes.” On that list stands out 9-year-old Ryan Kaji, who went viral reviewing toys. Thanks to his 36 million followers, he made $35 million in 2023. His family has turned his online influence into a company called Ryan’s World that sells toys, board games and clothing, and he has already surpassed social media queens like Chiara Ferragni and Monet McMichael.

Cintia Lopez Narvaez , 36, has been a content creator for 12 years. This Spanish influencer first started with a fashion blog before migrating to Instagram, where she showed the outfits she wore to work. However, after her children were born, she decided to change her strategy: now her account revolves around motherhood and children. “I’m doing much better with this type of content; my community has grown a lot,” she says. Her six-year-old son Jorge has starred in campaigns for brands with her since before he can even remember.

López assures that he does it of his own free will. “First I ask him if he feels like doing it, and we always do it as if it were a game.” She has already lost count of all the brands she has worked with, but she does remember that everything, from the diapers to the children’s room, were collaborations.

The son has learned from the mother by imitation, and is already making videos of himself mimicking what he has heard her say thousands of times: “Follow, like, and don’t forget to activate the notifications.” López believes that soon Jorge will have his own content creator account — and she is fine with that. “For them it is normal, because they have been in contact with social media all their lives. We had to learn it.”

According to the study Generation Alpha: The Real Picture, published by GWI, in the United States the Alpha generation has influence and purchasing power beyond their age. “Around a third of teens have a bank account they can access,” states the report. In it, the researchers conclude that these children also have a higher social awareness from an early age and that they will become consumers of big brands earlier.

It is all the result of many, many hours of screen time. “Without a doubt, it is the youngest who spend the most hours glued to the screens, which in some way end up educating the children,” says psychologist Silvia Álava, author of the book Queremos hijos felices (in English: We want happy children). “The people that children follow on social media often show unattainable realities with which they compare themselves: the body, luxuries and diet could be affected by overexposure to social media in an unhealthy way.”

The problem is linking happiness to that idealized physical image, as that only leads to frustration. Facebook research leaked in 2021 showed that social media influences the mood of young people: more than 40% of Instagram users said they did not feel attractive while using the app.

Psychologist Lorena González, CEO of Serena Psicología, a clinic that focuses on women’s well-being in Madrid, Spain, sees how mothers come to her office every day worried about their children and social networks. “We have many examples of children who were famous at a very young age starring in films, and we have been able to see how at that age they don’t understand that the reinforcement that fame provides is not real, and that having millions of followers is nothing definitive. The broken toy syndrome is now being transferred to young influencers who live for their likes,” says the expert. Her opinion on the new phenomenon is emphatic: “We cannot normalize having 10-year-old children working as influencers. It should be penalized.”

The phenomenon did not spring up out of nowhere. The children of the Alpha generation, explain the experts consulted, have internalized what they have been taught since they were in the wombs of their millennial mothers, who have exhibited their children’s lives on their social media accounts from the day there were born. “Children learn what we teach them. We are their role models. If parents normalize this online overexposure, then this will be normal for them, although we still do not know the consequences,” says González.

Sheila Tabernero, 42, runs the Instagram account Palabra de madre (in English: Mother’s word), which has 58,300 followers and focuses on family leisure activities. She started in 2012 when she became pregnant with her first child, doing a blog about her experience with motherhood. Little by little she evolved, and when the second child arrived she began to talk not only about pregnancy, but also about issues of being mothers and family. “I entered this world of content creators and brands began to contact me, and that’s when my whole family and I began to collaborate,” says Tabernero, who is represented by the influencer agency SP Talents.

Tabernero explains that her three children have appeared on her social media accounts since they were born. “For them it is normal. As they have grown, especially with the eldest, who is 11, I have tried to be increasingly careful with their image,” she says. Although most of her videos are about family trips, where they appear in very natural situations, she does ask for her children’s input. “I always ask them before posting if they agree with the content they are going to appear in. In my house, my children fight because they want to be in my videos and collaborate with brands. If it were up to my oldest son, Ares, he would have gotten his own YouTube channel a couple of years ago, but I still don’t want him to,” she points out.

For psychologist María Padilla, this generation will usher in a paradigm shift: “It’s a generation that lives in a world dominated by digital technologies. These are children who have never known a world without the internet, smartphones and tablets.”

Social media expert José Alvargonzález resorts to the data to explain the situation: “TikTok has experienced exponential growth among young users. Recent statistics indicate that a considerable percentage of its user base is made up of children under 16, who spend on average a significant amount of time on the platform each day.” Hence the cost: “It is key to consider the impact of social media on child development. These platforms can foster creativity, personal expression and communication skills in children, but on the other hand, there are associated risks such as exposure to inappropriate content, self esteem problems and pressures to maintain an idealized public image.” In this context, the lack of labor regulations of content made on social networks by minors

the poor compliance with existing guidelines means that these children can spend hours making monetized videos: “If these same 10-year-olds were working as waiters instead of influencers, they would be immediately penalized,” says the expert.

The Spanish National Cybersecurity Institute points out that the parents must also make sure that their children avoid personalized advertising on social media. They must set up the “ad configuration of the main social networks and use the options to report or denounce those advertisements that do not seem appropriate. Furthermore, it is very important that minors do not share personal information without the advice of a responsible adult, even if it seems like a trivial giveaway,” something very common on Instagram and TikTok. In addition, they see it as essential to “limit screen time in order to reduce the number of hours in which they will find advertising, therefore reducing the amount of commercial content that they will consume.” EL PAÍS









Youth, AI, Cryptocurrency and Greed



“Cyberattacks cost the world $945 billion a year.”


« Around the planet, crime is rising and the “bad guys” are ahead when it comes to cutting-edge technology. Financial institutions are the main target and geopolitics has become a process of extracting money, creating misery and jeopardizing the future. »


Beyond the monetary damage, financial crimes affect human dignity.”


“Despite the official story, artificial intelligence (AI) is extremely fragile. Human beings are, too.”



“Youth, cryptocurrencies and greed are three key parts of modern economic crises. Despite a certain level of improved regulations, tax havens continue to operate. Meanwhile, cyberattacks _according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies — cost the world $945 billion a year. Financial institutions allocate around $214 billion annually to protect themselves as a result. The investment bank Goldman Sachs warns of how “tremendously destructive” a digital attack could be on the electrical grid of the Northeastern United States. Some 15 states would be left in darkness, while the price of this luminous Armageddon would range between $250 billion to $1 trillion in damages. Despite the official story, artificial intelligence (AI) is extremely fragile. Human beings are, too.

Corruption costs Latin America an astounding $200 billion annually. A 2017 survey from Transparency International interviewed 164,000 people around the world. About 25% claimed to have paid bribes in the previous year — something that’s responsible for about half of the global economic slowdown. Meanwhile, circumventing ethics and committing environmental crimes — such as illegal logging or mining, the third-largest type of criminal activity on the planet — generate $281 billion a year in profits. There’s a widespread idea that these crimes are “low risk, high return.”

The amount of money that has left sub-Saharan Africa illicitly since 1980 exceeds $1.3 trillion. This scarcity engenders greater poverty, more illegal immigration, environmental degradation, fewer external resources, reduced confidence in financial institutions, and increased inequality. The geopolitics of making the poor more miserable carries the risk of spreading anger across the continent.

The great beneficiary of this situation (along with Russia) is China. The Asian giant is the largest lender to nations on the African content (although Beijing never reveals the amount of debt) and, without a doubt, is the biggest external power in the region.

Around the planet, crime is rising and the “bad guys” are ahead when it comes to cutting-edge technology. Financial institutions are the main target and geopolitics has become a process of extracting money, creating misery and jeopardizing the future.

As a result of the fraudulent and the unfair, Europe — according to Mark Bou, head of communications at the Tax Justice Network — loses $181 billion in taxes annually, because billionaires and large companies use them to pay less than they should. This is equivalent to almost 12% of public health spending in European nations.

“A multi-billion-dollar industry has emerged in the world, employing some of the best-educated people as lawyers, consultants, accountants, with the sole purpose of evading taxes for the rich and the unscrupulous. And, yes, additionally, certain successful entrepreneurs avoid paying,” Daron Acemoğlu reflects. He’s professor of economics at MIT and a recurring candidate for a Nobel Prize. “Tax havens are particularly useful for people who have misbegotten wealth, due to bribery, embezzlement and manipulation. It’s a big problem.” The dark soul of abused talent. He warns: “[It’s] clearer than ever, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that these financial crimes are also costing lives.”

Few seem to care. The United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Ireland and Switzerland enable some of the biggest tax abuses on the planet. Europe as a whole is responsible for the loss of $236 billion annually in taxes, according to the Tax Justice Network. “In the Old Continent, in recent years, a growing flow of money of illicit origin from Russia and Malta has been detected,” reveals Enric Olcina, a partner at FS Consulting and head of Financial Crimes at KPMG in Spain. “Avoiding taxes is a permanent temptation. It’s inevitable and the reality is that [companies and millionaires] go where they pay less,” affirms jurist Antonio Garrigues Walker.

“It’s a problem without a solution. There will always be jurisdictions that offer tax incentives,” shrugs Mauro Guillén, vice dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

The pessimism of the philosopher Emil Cioran (1911-1995) remains: “It’s not the violent evils that mark us, but the dull evils, the insistent, the tolerable ones, those that are part of our routine and meticulously undermine us, just like the time.”

In 2021, more than 140 countries and territories agreed to apply a minimum tax of 15% on the profits of multinationals. This “historic milestone” — as it was described at the time — is, today, thanks to legal loopholes, actually around 9%. “The financial crimes that cause the most damage to our states and societies are generated because they’re legal. The laws are written by the economic criminals’ own lawyers.”

In the EU, there are 30 special tax regimes that benefit 262,999 people with a tax cost of $7.5 billion euros ($8.2 billion) annually. The effective tax rate for billionaires in France is close to 0%. In the United States, it’s around 0.5%. A global 2% rate on the assets of these “lucky ones” (2,757 people, according to data published by the EU Tax Observatory in December 2022) would raise $214 billion. While it’s fiscally legal to wake up in a tax haven, perhaps a moral bridge is required to get over the greed. This is according to Mauro Guillén and Garrigues Walker. “Financial crimes limit the resources available to promote social development, such as [in the fields of] education and health,” warns Luis Ayala, a professor of economics at Spain’s National University of Distance Education. Crime makes the globe go round.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) estimates that there are at least 59,000 people in the U.K. involved in organized crime — including financial crimes — and the cost to the country is more than £47 billion ($59 billion) per year. Without these funds, generations are lost in precariousness, while money is wasted on drugs or luxuries. “Financial crimes have a devastating effect on economies and negatively contribute to the creation of differences between different social groups, since they’re linked to obtaining wealth through illicit activities. In many cases, [these activities] have a price in human lives, [because of] human-trafficking or drug-trafficking,” observes Manuel Delgado, a partner at EY.

Europe has always privileged regulation over a laissez faire system. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the more recently-created Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA) are Brussels’ containment dams. For this reason, financial institutions allocate $214 billion a year to protect themselves. “The reputational impact [that] an accusation of money laundering [has on] a bank is devastating. They’re very aware and are very careful with the clients they accept from territories considered to be tax havens or that have a bad reputation,” warns José García Montalvo, professor of Applied Economics at Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra University (UPF). The 2015 closure, due to its illicit activities, of the Banca Privada de Andorra (BPA) is still vivid in his memory. Banco Madrid also disappeared. Coincidentally, the Madrid-based entity had its headquarters in Margaret Thatcher Square. The British prime minister — who, during her tenure from 1979 until 1990, deregulated the financial markets — pushed policies that contributed to the 2008-2009 financial crisis. Ironically, despite the increase in financial crimes, the scrutiny is greater.

The term “pig butchering” comes from China. It refers to the practice of gradually stuffing the animal (“fattening the pig”) before taking it to the slaughterhouse. In pig butchering scams, victims are pampered for quite some time. Upon being seduced (the targets are usually men), the scammers control their victims’ money through investments in cryptocurrencies, which at first offer great returns. However, later on, the beautiful financial advisor disappears with the funds into the deepest part of the internet. “The key is financial education: it’s the pillar of this decade,” explains Fernando de Rojas, a professor of economics at the Carlos III University in Madrid.

However, beyond the monetary damage, financial crimes affect human dignity. “This is as big a scandal as any of the financial scandals that we’ve seen in the last 20 years,” says Graham Barrow, an anti-money laundering expert. “It is an abject failure by the U.K. government to have done nothing about it.” It all started in China back in 2019, but it’s now making its way through Europe and the United States, where the FBI has already received complaints worth around $429 million.

Young people have — without a doubt — been attracted to the phenomenon of digital currencies. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have three key purposes: to diversify savings portfolios (the United States has approved exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, amid this exchange of intangible currencies), to preserve capital in countries with corrupt governments (which often seize tangible assets) and to facilitate illicit activities. They make up the blackjack of financial capitalism. “Criminals won’t give up on the misuse of cryptocurrencies anytime soon,” predicts Jean-Philippe Lecouffe, deputy executive director of Operations at Europol.

Cheating has become so banal that they even dare to do so with JP Morgan Chase. Charlie Javice — an entrepreneur — created a startup called Frank, which she described as the “Amazon of higher education.” The platform helped students find funding for their degrees. On LinkedIn, she wrote that her platform had more than five million students and about 6,000 universities. The future was so bright that JP Morgan bought the company in 2021 for $175 million. But everything turned out to be false: Frank barely had 300,000 clients. Javice, 31, had (allegedly) hired a data scientist to fatten the numbers.

JP Morgan has 240,000 employees. The investment bank’s CEO earns $34.5 million a year for his expertise. Was everyone too busy to pay attention? Meanwhile, Javice denies the charges that have been levied against her. She’s facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

American executives should have been in front of their computers learning the latest information about AI or machine learning technology when this hoax occurred. The consulting firm McKinsey reports that “the techniques used to discover tax evasion are becoming more complex every day.” Big banks have invested $214 billion annually to protect themselves. American consulting firms trust in new technology: they feed their models with data about money laundering, illicit trafficking and terrorist financing, so that the technology learns to detect them. The red light flashes in real time. “Logically, if you’re able to design algorithms that prevent a good part of financial crimes, you’ll be helping to avoid them,” Enrique Dans confirms. He’s professor of innovation at the IE Business School in Madrid.

The big problem, however, lies within human beings. “We were, by nature, children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ephesians 2:3. This tension haunts man more than 2,000 years later. According to data from the U.N., Latin America and the Caribbean account for half of the intentional homicides in the world, despite only representing 8% of the global population. The murder rate has increased in Central America and the Caribbean by 4% in the last two decades. And poor countries like Jamaica or El Salvador must allocate 2% of their wealth to combat crime. Loss of life results in a loss of prosperity. In Latin America, an increase in the homicide rate by 30% means a reduction in GDP growth by 0.14 percentage points. If the region had the same homicide rate as the global average, GDP would increase by 0.5% annually.

Financial crimes aren’t merely digital numbers traversing complex networks. The destruction of land and ecosystems is one of the most profitable “businesses” on the planet. Environmental crimes generated between $110 and $281 billion in criminal profits in 2021, according to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Illegal logging alone resulted in profits of $152 billion. And this represents much more than illicit money: it subtracts social and economic development, negatively impacts health and the environment, all while reducing the security of communities. Corruption is also encouraged, due to the links between illegal extractive industries with drug-trafficking and forced labor. 

This dirty money takes advantage of financial secrecy laws, which criminals use to hide their identities, facilitate operations and launder the proceeds of crime. Investigations by the InSight Crime platform suggest that the problem is even greater, as the drug-trafficking and money-laundering networks grow in Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. To the north, in Mexico — in the Sierra Madre Occidental, the mountains in the state of Chihuahua — the Tarahumara (or Rarámuri) Indigenous group has been inhabiting the territory for 15,000 years. But they have a problem: the area has become one of the main logging areas in the country, with drug-traffickers cutting down thousands of trees. 

Without this forest, the sheep — the Tarahumara’s means of existence — will disappear. The women weave blankets out of their wool to protect their families from the freezing temperatures that descend over the mountains in winter. This material also provides for mortuary shrouds. 

“They have stolen their arewá (soul),” laments Sofía Mariscal, who, through the Marso Foundation, tries to protect the dignity of the locals. “They want to take everything / Leave my land with nothing / My family suffers from hunger / My forest suffers from logging,” sing the Raprámuri, against a future of cement. “Seizing illicit funds and physical assets related to deforestation isn’t just about punishing criminals and demonstrating that ‘justice is done,’” says Juhani Grossmann, director of the Green Corruption program at the Basel Institute on Governance (Switzerland). “It’s also essential to prevent future deforestation, since by doing so, you prevent funds from being reinvested in this activity.”

Without the oxygen provided by the Amazon, the planet becomes a chronically ill person unable to exhale. Of the more than 300 operations carried out by the Brazilian Federal Police to combat environmental crimes in the Amazon — according to Melina Risso, research director of the Igarapé Institute — 30% involved fraud, 64% involved the bribing of officials and 61% involved money-laundering. The crime was based on four elements: illicit agriculture, the invasion of publicly-owned lands, illegal logging and clandestine mining.

With gold exceeding $2,000 per ounce (28.34 grams), the temptation of illegal exploitation has become irresistible in several Latin American countries. “Its nature — and the way it’s refined — make it very easy to hide the fact that it’s been illegally extracted,” Grossmann warns. Minerals critical for the green transition have also entered the picture. When state-owned companies participate, the risk of corruption increases, with more politicians and fewer justified expenses. “Nothing is in vain and that’s why I migrate / I also flee because I’m in danger / This is my soil, this is my air / And I don’t understand why they separate me / From that greed that invades them.” More verses against inequality from the Rarámuri people. 

Daron Acemoğlu, from MIT, is spending his summer vacation in Turkey, his homeland. He walks through Istanbul — the city where he was born, in 1967 — and notes that inflation is around 65%. Concerns about the economy are discussed in cafés and shops. Acemoğlu is very sensitive to injustice. “One of the main failures of our era is that new technologies, globalization and integration increased productivity and generated economic growth (although not as much as some experts predicted), but [the gains] haven’t been shared. Inequality has increased. What’s more serious is that hundreds of millions of people have been left behind,” he reflects.

“Many believe the game is ‘rigged.’ Elites and technocrats have reorganized the economy [in a way that] has been biased against [the general public]. This belief is at the root of populist parties and leaders. It has reduced support for democracy across Europe.”

It’s certainly not a nonsensical thought, especially when you think of an isolated town in Wisconsin, or the prostitutes who walk Figueroa Street in Los Angeles. “Conspiratorial thinking is fanciful,” Acemoğlu sighs, “but many inequalities have been created by flawed policies and legal loopholes. [The technocracy] has also ignored the situation of the less educated and hasn’t done much to address inequality and inequalities. There’s no better place to see this than in dozens of tax havens around the world and the financial crimes they engender.” These havens are reserved for the few, while they represent a descent into hell for millions of other human beings.”

Miguel Ángel García Vega

El País







When the Scientists Cross the Red Lines


A group of Chinese scientists have cloned a monkey, one step closer to cloning humans

The 1996 cloning of Dolly the sheep caused a worldwide alert about the possibility that a laboratory might try to make clones of human beings. Then the first calves and mice were cloned in 1998, followed by goats in 1999, pigs in 2000, rabbits in 2002 and dogs in 2005. In 2007, the United Nations University published a report stating that the cloning of human beings was, perhaps, inevitable.


Andres Gambini emphasizes that the technique is still complex and has low efficiency rates. “Human cloning for reproductive purposes continues to be the subject of intense questioning, and not only because the technique is inefficient, involves embryonic and fetal death, and the physical and mental health of the clones is not guaranteed. What is the purpose of creating people through cloning? All the answers involve some legal, ethical or moral dilemma,” he says.


“Last week a team of Chinese scientists announced the birth of Retro, a macaque cloned with a new strategy to obtain identical monkeys. The 1996 cloning of Dolly the sheep caused a worldwide alert about the possibility that a laboratory might try to make clones of human beings. The technique seemed simple. British embryologist Ian Wilmut’s group emptied an egg from a sheep and inserted a nucleus with DNA from an adult cell taken from another female’s udder. Dolly was a replica of the latter.

The first calves and mice were cloned in 1998, followed by goats in 1999, pigs in 2000, rabbits in 2002 and dogs in 2005. In 2007, the United Nations University published a report stating that the cloning of human beings was, perhaps, inevitable.

Over two decades ago, some irresponsible scientists, such as Severino Antinori and Panos Zavos, even announced the imminent birth of cloned humans, but the reality was that Dolly’s technique — called somatic cell nuclear transfer — did not work well with primates, the animal group that includes monkeys and humans. That situation changed in 2018, when the same Qiang Sun team announced the birth of the first monkeys cloned using this strategy: two female crab macaque monkeys christened Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua. The word zhonghua means “Chinese nation.” At the time, one of the study’s co-authors, Poo Mu Ming, declared in this newspaper that “there are no barriers to cloning primates, so human cloning is closer to becoming a reality.”

The 2018 experiment was extremely inefficient. Qiang Sun and colleagues created 109 embryos, transferred 79 of them to 21 females, and achieved just six gestations. Only two monkeys were born. In the new study, published last week in the Nature Communications Journal, the researchers improved the technique by adding placental precursor cells. This time they created 113 embryos, transferred 11 of them to seven females and achieved two gestations and a single birth: a male rhesus macaque monkey, who is now three and a half years old. “This new strategy has significantly improved the efficiency of monkey cloning, both with respect to the number of embryos transplanted and the number of pregnant females used,” says Sun.

The Chinese researcher explains that they named the animal Retro, after the acronym for replacement of the trophectoderm, the layer of cells that gives rise to the placenta. “Retro is growing and getting stronger every day. He lives in our animal house with ample space and sunlight,” says the Chinese scientist, the director of the non-human primate facility at the Center of Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology in Shanghai.

German bioengineer Angelika Schnieke, one of the people involved in cloning Dolly the sheep, was concerned about Qiang Sun’s first experiments, which required dozens of pregnant females and largely resulted in miscarriages and malformed fetuses. “These cloned primates in China have crossed an ethical line. What is being done probably needs to be reconsidered,” Schnieke told EL PAÍS in 2018. “I personally find it hard to justify cloning monkeys. I worry that monkey cloning will continue and spread to other species,” she said at the time.

Qiang Sun argues that the use of monkeys is “essential” in the field of biomedical and cognitive research. In 2019, his team employed the technique already used with the Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua monkeys to create five clones of a crab macaque that had been genetically modified to mimic schizophrenia-like symptoms. Sun contends that these uniform populations of laboratory monkeys can be very useful for studying genetically based diseases, such as cancer and many brain disorders. His new study boasts of “introducing a promising strategy for cloning primates.”

Cloning is already routine in other species. Argentine veterinarian Andres Gambini first cloned horses in South America in 2010. He is currently doing research at the University of Queensland (Australia) and is the scientific director of Ovohorse, a Spanish company based in Marbella that offers “cloning services for dogs, cats, camels and horses, among animals.”

Gambini believes that Retro’s birth is “a remarkable advance” in the field. In his opinion, the study’s fundamental idea — replacing the placenta of cloned embryos with that of embryos created through in vitro fertilization — is not conceptually new, but its success shows an alternative for improving the efficiency of cloning. The Argentine veterinarian notes that this approach could also be used to implant embryos from an endangered wild animal into the uterus of females of similar domestic species. In 2020, his team succeeded in creating cloned zebra embryos from emptied mare ovaries.

Andres Gambini emphasizes that the technique is still complex and has low efficiency rates. “Human cloning for reproductive purposes continues to be the subject of intense questioning, and not only because the technique is inefficient, involves embryonic and fetal death, and the physical and mental health of the clones is not guaranteed. What is the purpose of creating people through cloning? All the answers involve some legal, ethical or moral dilemma,” he says.

The Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights prohibits human cloning and was adopted by the United Nations in 1998. Dutch jurist Bartha Knoppers, who participated in drafting the document, does not believe that anyone would dare to take the step, not even a megalomaniac dictator. “I think human reproductive cloning is one of the areas where there is a virtually universal consensus that we should never go down that road,” she explained in an interview with EL PAÍS just over a year ago. “It would create an element of industrialization in reproduction and turn people into things that can be copied. For me, it’s a red line.”









When you eat is as important as what you eat



If you eat at the wrong time, none of the organs that prepare to receive the food react well.

The body is programmed a certain way, and the organs function accordingly.



A mismatch between the time of meals and the human body’s biological clock increases the risk of diseases because many organs function on a schedule

There are more than 300 identified genes that define the predisposition of each individual to be more of a morning or evening person.”

“The way you eat is essential for your health. But not only what and how much we eat have an influence, but also when we eat. In recent years, science has focused on unraveling the phenomenon of chrononutrition which explains the relationship between time-related eating patterns, circadian rhythm, and metabolic health. And research has already shed light on the importance of food intake times that are synchronized with our circadian rhythm, which is the 24-hour biological clock that regulates internal physiological functions. For example, scientists have discovered that skipping breakfast is associated with a higher risk of obesity, and eating late dinners is also linked to weight gain.

Humans have a kind of central clock that sets the time for the body. At first glance, it is a barely one-millimeter ball located in the hypothalamus, but these tiny molecular devices are capable of telling the time to the rest of the body. Together with the small chronometers that are independent of the tissues, they anticipate and prepare the cells for what is to come, such as eating at noon or going to sleep at night. “Our body has schedules and this central clock is not isolated, but is synchronized with the outside world, mainly through light and darkness, but also with changes between eating and fasting or with periods of activity and rest,” Marta Garaulet, a professor of Physiology at the University of Murcia and expert in chrononutrition explains.

Keeping to our circadian rhythm and all the biological changes that follow a 24-hour cycle is essential for health. So much so that a disruption in these biorhythms can alter basic vital functions, the scientist points out: “We are made to sleep at night and we do not eat while we sleep. We are made to eat and move during the day. So, if your body perceives that there is light at night or that you are eating, it is receiving contradictory information.”

Internal biorhythms are regulated through the central clock, peripheral chronometers (which are in organs and tissues), lifestyle habits, behaviors, and the environment. “A person who is in good chronobiological health is one who has all their clocks synchronized in accordance with the changes of light and darkness,” Garaulet says. Now, there may be synchronization failures in the central clock, in the peripherals or in the behaviors, and that can create chronodisruptions that, in the long run, “are related to diseases, such as obesity, cancer, depression, or metabolic alterations,” says the scientist. “This is clearly seen in shift workers or employees who work at night, people whose behaviors are misaligned with their internal clock.”

The body is programmed a certain way, and the organs function accordingly. That is, in a different way during the 24 hours of the day: they do not respond in the same way if they have to work at a time that they had not planned. The pancreas, for example, is lazier at night and more active during the day. “Eating dinner late has a very clear effect: it coincides with the secretion of melatonin, which is the hormone that prepares you for sleep, with insulin, which is the hormone that helps distribute food. But, in the presence of melatonin, insulin secretion is reduced and tolerance to sugar and carbohydrates is worse,” says the chronobiologist. She and her team discovered a decade ago that eating late can influence your ability to lose weight when you’re on a diet.

Lidia Daimiel, researcher at the Madrid Institute of Advanced Studies and the Obesity and Nutrition Network Research Center, insists that “the body is not equally prepared to manage food at just any time of the day.” For this reason, when you eat is a determining factor in the chronobiology of an individual, she explains: “When you eat is as important as what you eat. If what you eat is good and healthy, but the timing is not right, you are not getting the benefit at the same magnitude that that food could give you.”

In practice, there can be an impact on overall health. “Once the time is set, it can affect everything,” says Garaulet.The recent studies indicating that chronodisruptive eating behaviors “have been implicated in many health disorders, including sleep disorders, cardiometabolic risk, unbalanced energy distribution, deregulation of body temperature, weight gain, and psychosocial discomfort,” among others.

The experimental and clinical studies have consistently shown that alteration of circadian rhythm can favor the development and progression of digestive pathologies, such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases.” Likewise, research on mice indicates that synchronizing feeding with the circadian clock mitigates obesity: animals that ate in active phases of their circadian cycle burned more calories and reduced the risk of developing this disease.

Disruption in natural mealtimes also impacts sleep. “Sleep is an external synchronizer, like mealtimes, and it sets your clocks. But, at the same time, it is also a consequence of your internal clock and there may be alterations, such as eating late, which can alter sleep because you cannot digest properly,” Garaulet adds.

Scientists warn that there are no magic formulas or infallible recommendations for the appropriate time to eat. Garaulet says that there are more than 300 identified genes that define the predisposition of each individual to be more of a morning or evening person: “There are people who, if they have dinner at 12 at night, are not affected, since their biological night begins at 1 in the morning. Each individual has different biological nights and the time at which they eat will affect them depending on their internal chronotype.” For this reason, Daimiel emphasizes that “it is very difficult to give overall advice. But there are two general messages: do not eat late and do not have dinner too close to bedtime,” Daimiel says.

Chrononutrition, however, is an expanding science and there are still issues to be resolved. For example, Garaulet points out: “It is not clear nor are there studies that confirm that changing the hours of intake improves the prognosis for obesity.” Daimiel, for his part, points out another key mystery to be resolved: “There is a lot of knowledge about how the circadian rhythm is controlled, but the difficulty now is learning to modulate this to our metabolic convenience. The work is to see how the clocks align through nutrition: what dietary protocols can be applied to set our clocks.” EL PAÍS





National Take the Stairs Day



The American Lung Association encourages all the people across the country take part in this interesting initiative and avoid the escalator and climb the stairs on Wednesday, January 10.

According to the American Lung Association, stair-climbing has many health benefits and it will be a perfect way to start the new year in 2024. Climbing the stairs strengthening the muscles and improving the natural balance. It has also many benefits for keeping the lungs healthy.

According to the latest reports, climbing stairs on daily basis (minimum 50 stair steps) can reduce the risk of blood clots, heart attacks and strokes because this activity can strengthen the heart muscles and improve the health of lungs. Stair Climbing is considered to be an intense physical activity and has the similar benefits of running. It has also mental health benefits because of the increase in oxygen taking and blood circulation. Good luck with your stairs climbing challenge!





TikTok Videos Have Cheapen People’s Tastes




Children are not dolls made for gaining followers’: This is how kids are affected by viral TikTok pranks



Loosing Dignity, Gaining Followers


Where human dignity is at risk just for the sake of gaining followers

Videos of parents laughing as they prank or scare their children are garnering millions of views




“A baby cries endlessly. A slice of cheese is tossed onto baby’s face and the baby stop crying. This is one of the viral pranks of TikTok. In other cases, parents break eggs on kids’ faces to see their reaction or make them believe that they have stained themselves with poop when it’s actually Nutella. TikTok is full of viral videos of progenitors humiliating their children. Several experts advise against such pranks due to possible negative consequences for minors.

All you have to do is search TikTok for “egg crack challenge” to see dozens of examples. Typically, the kids are hanging out with a family member who is cooking. They look on as their elder appears to be about to crack an egg into a bowl. But at the last moment, the adult cracks it against the child’s forehead. This elicits all kinds of reactions: from kids who get angry to those who try to take revenge, those who cry, and those who are stunned and start complaining that it hurts.

“I take this type of prank on social networks very seriously because they are quite the disrespectful violation of children’s privacy,” says Amaya Prado, an expert in educational psychology and member of the governing board of the Official College of Psychology of Madrid. In other videos, babies react to a stuffed cactus that is immobile, until it suddenly begins to move and make noise. Most are shocked and begin to cry. “No one likes a parent make the child cry for the strangers.” Said the psychologist. It is not an healthy relationship with technology and social media when parents’ goal is to attract attention and get likes, comments and validation. “Not only are these parents physically and emotionally abusing their children through embarrassment, ridicule and humiliation, but the fact that they’re also doing it publicly means they’re flaunting it to the world,” says Broder, who is a member of the American Psychological Association.

Harmful pranks on children

What does it mean for kids when these videos are recorded and shared on social media? According to Prado, it depends on the tone, nature and frequency of the pranks. If they are constant and humiliating, “they can affect their self-esteem, making them feel belittled or ridiculed, especially because people will then see these pranks.” In addition, inappropriate pranks “can create anxiety and stress and have a lasting impact on their online reputation.” “Embarrassing and humiliating content can be shared and saved, affecting how they are perceived by peers and others online,” she says.

Babies, even if they’re not conscious of what is happening, can also suffer consequences. “Even if they don’t understand social media or the pranks in the same way an older child would, that online exposure can impact their emotional well-being”.

It could be that some children won’t immediately understand that they’re being mistreated, but they could manifest a post-traumatic stress disorder later on and ask themselves, ‘Why did my parents do this to me?’ It’s possible that they could grow up and feel anger, resentment and shame towards their parents,” says Broder. This kind of prank can break the trust between parents and children, as Margolin a psychologist who specializes in child-rearing, says: “Please, stop breaking eggs on kids’ heads. It can seem like a fun trend to you, but for your children, it’s a lapse in trust. You are supposed to be a safe person to them, not someone who surprises and hurts them.”

Not to mention, parents are role models for their children. “If you make disrespectful or insensitive jokes online, children can learn that this type of behavior is acceptable,” says Prado. Margolin agrees: “Don’t be surprised if your kids start misbehaving or hitting other kids, touching them without asking. They learned it from you.”

Monkey See, Monkey Do


Sommer, a psychologist who researches the cognitive, social and emotional development of children at Griffith University in Australia, thinks that some parents carry out these pranks because they’ve seen so many other users do them and are unaware that they can be harmful to their children.

Not all pranks are created equal. To try for pranks that will be better received, Prado advises opting for ones “that generate positive laughter and are not intended to ridicule or hurt feelings.” The expert suggests making “gentle jokes about funny characteristics or common family habits, but always making sure it is done in a friendly and non-offensive tone.” Another alternative is to opt for posting funny photos with a lighthearted comment or jokes related to shared family experiences or situations. “This can create a sense of complicity and make the joke more fun for everyone.”

The most important thing is to “know limits and avoid sensitive topics or situations that could be uncomfortable for kids.” While there are pranks that may be less harmful to minors, Broder advises against sharing them on social media: “I can’t think of any reason to play pranks on children, especially on TikTok. These are human beings, not dolls to help parents gain followers or entertain them.” EL PAÍS









Race For Profit


Fierce Competition Among Big Tech Companies over AI




Over 12 months, Silicon Valley was transformed. Turning artificial intelligence into actual products that individuals and companies could use became the priority. Worries about safety and whether machines would turn on their creators were not ignored, but they were shunted aside — at least for the moment.




“At 1 p.m. on a Friday shortly before Christmas last year, Kent Walker, Google’s top lawyer, summoned four of his employees and ruined their weekend.

The group worked in SL1001, a bland building with a blue glass facade betraying no sign that dozens of lawyers inside were toiling to protect the interests of one of the world’s most influential companies. For weeks they had been prepping for a meeting of powerful executives to discuss the safety of Google’s products. The deck was done. But that afternoon Walker told his team the agenda had changed, and they would have to spend the next few days preparing new slides and graphs.

In fact, the entire agenda of the company had changed — all in the course of nine days. Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, had decided to ready a slate of products based on artificial intelligence — immediately. He turned to Walker, the same lawyer he was trusting to defend the company in a profit-threatening antitrust case in Washington, D.C. Walker knew he would need to persuade the Advanced Technology Review Council, as Google called the group of executives, to throw off their customary caution and do as they were told.

It was an edict, and edicts didn’t happen very often at Google. But Google was staring at a real crisis. Its business model was potentially at risk.

What had set off Pichai and the rest of Silicon Valley was ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence program that had been released on November 30, 2022, by an upstart called OpenAI. It had captured the imagination of millions of people who had thought A.I. was science fiction until they started playing with the thing. It was a sensation. It was also a problem.

At the Googleplex, Pichai was playing with ChatGPT. Its wonders did not wow him. Google had been developing its own AI technology that did many of the same things. Pichai was focused on ChatGPT’s flaws — that it got stuff wrong, that sometimes it turned into a biased pig. What amazed him was that OpenAI had gone ahead and released it anyway, and that consumers loved it. If OpenAI could do that, why couldn’t Google?

Why not plow ahead? That’s the question that loomed over A.I.’s adolescence — the year or so after the technology made the leap from lab to living room. There was hand-wringing over chatbots writing seductive phishing emails and spewing disinformation, or high schoolers using them to cheat their way to an A. Doomsayers insisted that unfettered AI could lead to the end of humankind.

For tech company bosses, the decision of when and how to turn A.I. into a (hopefully) profitable business was a more simple risk-reward calculus. But to win, you had to have a product.

By Monday morning, Dec. 12, the team at SL1001 had a new agenda with a deck labeled “Privileged and Confidential/Need to Know.” Most attendees tuned in over videoconference. Walker started the meeting by announcing that Google was moving ahead with a chatbot and A.I. capabilities that would be added to cloud, search and other products.

What are your concerns? “What are we missing in order to fast-track approvals?”

Not everyone was on board. “My standards are as high if not higher than they usually are, and we will be going through a review process with all of this,” Ms. Gennai remembered a cloud executive saying.

Eventually a compromise was reached. They would limit the rollout, Ms. Gennai said. And they would avoid calling anything a product. For Google, it would be an experiment. That way it didn’t have to be perfect.

Once ChatGPT was unleashed, none of that mattered as much, according to interviews with more than 80 executives and researchers, as well as corporate documents and audio recordings. The instinct to be first or biggest or richest — or all three — took over. The leaders of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies set a new course and pulled their employees along with them.

Pichai oversaw more than 2,000 researchers divided between two labs, Google Brain and DeepMind. In April, he merged them. Google DeepMind would develop an A.I. system called Gemini. To run it, Pichai chose Demis Hassabis, a founder of DeepMind. Hassabis had long and loudly warned that A.I. could destroy humanity. Now he would be in charge of leading Google to artificial intelligence supremacy.

Geoffrey Hinton, Google’s best-known scientist, had always poked fun at people like Dr. Hassabis — the doomers, rationalists and effective altruists who worried that A.I would end mankind in the near future. He had developed much of the science behind artificial intelligence as a professor at the University of Toronto and became a wealthy man after joining Google in 2013. He is often called the godfather of A.I.

But the new chatbots changed everything for him. The science had moved more quickly than he had expected. Microsoft’s introduction of its chatbot convinced him that Google would have no choice but to try to catch up. And the corporate race shaping up between tech giants seemed dangerous.






At Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, who had once proclaimed the metaverse to be the future, reorganized parts of the company formerly known as Facebook around AI. Elon Musk, the billionaire who co-founded OpenAI but had left the lab in a huff, vowed to create his own A.I. company.

Actually, months earlier Meta had released its own chatbot — to very little notice.

BlenderBot was a flop. That A.I.-powered bot, released in August 2022, was built to carry on conversations — and that it did. Mark Zuckerberg, it told a user, was Creepy. Then two weeks before ChatGPT was released, Meta introduced Galactica. Designed for scientific research, it could instantly write academic articles and solve math problems. Someone asked it to write a research paper about the history of bears in space. It did. After three days, Galactica was shut down.

Zuckerberg’s head was elsewhere. He had spent the entire year reorienting company around the metaverse and was focused on virtual and augmented reality.

But ChatGPT would demand his attention. His top A.I. scientist, Yann LeCun, arrived in the Bay Area from New York about six weeks later for a routine management meeting at Meta, according to a person familiar with the meeting. LeCun led a double life — as Meta’s chief A.I. scientist and a professor at New York University.

As they waited in line for lunch at a cafe in Meta’s Frank Gehry-designed headquarters, Dr. LeCun delivered a warning to Zuckerberg. He said Meta should match OpenAI’s technology and also push forward with work on an A.I. assistant that could do stuff on the internet on your behalf. Websites like Facebook and Instagram could become extinct, he warned. A.I. was the future.

That would allow Meta to catch up — and put Zuckerberg back in league with his fellow moguls. But it would also allow anyone to manipulate the technology to do bad things.




Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive,had invested in OpenAI three years before and was letting the start-up’s cowboys tap into its computing power. He sped up his plans to incorporate A.I. into Microsoft’s products — and give Google a poke in its searching eye.

“Speed is even more important than ever,” Sam Schillace, a top executive, wrote Microsoft employees. It would be, he added, an “absolutely fatal error in this moment to worry about things that can be fixed later.”

For Nadella, the realization that OpenAI’s tech could change everything did not come as an “Aha!” moment. After investing $1 billion in 2019, Microsoft slowly started playing with the start-up’s code. First up was GitHub, the company’s code storage service. A few teams of engineers started experimenting with OpenAI’s tech to help them write code.

Over dinner in Microsoft’s boardroom with a friend in the summer of 2021, Nadella said he was beginning to see the technology as a game changer. It would touch every part of Microsoft’s business and every human being, he predicted.

A year later, Nadella got a peek at what would become GPT-4. Nadella asked it to translate a poem written in Persian by Rumi, who died in 1273, into Urdu. It did. He asked it to transliterate the Urdu into English characters. It did that, too. “Then I said, ‘God, this thing,’” Mr. Nadella recalled in an interview. From that moment, he was all in.

Nadella took the lectern to tell his lieutenants that everything was about to change. This was an executive order from a leader who typically favored consensus. “We are pivoting the whole company on this technology,” Eric Horvitz, the chief scientist, later remembered him saying. “This is a central advancement in the history of computing, and we are going to be on that wave at the front of it.”

It all had to stay secret for the time being. Not everyone would be brought into the tent, and at Microsoft, tents were where the important stuff happened.

It was a go.

Microsoft invited journalists to its Redmond, Wash., campus on Feb. 7 to introduce a chatbot in Bing to the world. They were instructed not to tell anybody they were going to a Microsoft event, and the topic wasn’t disclosed.

But somehow, Google found out. On Feb. 6, to get out ahead of Microsoft, it put up a blog post by Pichai announcing that Google would be introducing its own chatbot, Bard. It didn’t say exactly when.

Altman had just arrived at Microsoft’s conference center for a dry run of the show when he was grabbed and showed Pichai’s post.

“‘Oh my gosh, this is hysterical,’

By the morning of Feb. 8, the day after Microsoft announced the chatbot, its shares were up 5 percent. But for Google, the rushed announcement became an embarrassment. Researchers spotted errors in Google’s blog post. An accompanying GIF simulated Bard saying that the Webb telescope had captured the first pictures of an exoplanet, a planet outside the solar system. In fact, a telescope at the European Southern Observatory in northern Chile got the first image of an exoplanet in 2004. Bard had gotten it wrong, and Google was ribbed in the news media and on social media.

It was, as Pichai later said in an interview, “unfortunate.” Google’s stock dropped almost 8 percent, wiping out more than $100 billion in value.



The strange thing was that the leaders of OpenAI never thought ChatGPT would shake up Silicon Valley. In early November 2022, a few weeks before it was released to the world, it didn’t really exist as a product. Most of the 375 employees working in their new offices, a former mayonnaise factory, were focused on a more powerful version of technology, called GPT-4, that could answer almost any question using information gleaned from an enormous collection of data scraped from seemingly everywhere.

It was revolutionary, but there were problems. Sometimes the tech spewed hate speech and misinformation. The engineers at OpenAI kept postponing the launch and talking about what to do.

In mid-November 2022, Mr. Altman; Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s president; and others met in a top-floor conference room to discuss the problems with their breakthrough tech yet again. Suddenly Altman made the decision — they would release the old, less-powerful technology.

The plan was to call it Chat with GPT 3.5 and put it out by the end of the month. They referred to it as a “low key research preview.” It didn’t feel like a big-deal decision to anyone in the room.

“We plan to frame it as a research release,” Mira Murati, OpenAI’s chief technology officer, told staff over Slack. “This reduces risk in all dimensions while allowing us to learn a lot,” she wrote. “We are aiming to move quickly over the next few days to make it happen.”

The underlying code was a bit of a blob. It needed to be converted into something regular people without Ph.D.s could interact with. Altman and other executives asked a group of engineers to graft a graphical user interface — a GUI, pronounced gooey — onto the blob. A GUI is the face of an application, where you type and press buttons.

A GUI had been created earlier that year to show the technology to Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder, at his home outside Seattle. They stuck the same GUI on and changed the name to ChatGPT. About two weeks after Altman made his decision, they were good to go.

On Nov. 29, the night before the launch, Brockman hosted drinks for the team. He didn’t think ChatGPT would attract a lot of attention, he said. His prediction: “no more than one tweet thread with 5k likes.”

Mr. Brockman was wrong. On the morning of Nov. 30, Altman tweeted about OpenAI’s new product, and the company posted a jargon-heavy blog item. And then, ChatGPT took off. Almost immediately, sign-ups overwhelmed the company’s servers. Engineers rushed in and out of a messy space near the office kitchen, huddling over laptops to pull computing power from other projects. In five days, more than a million people had used ChatGPT. Within a few weeks, that number would top 100 million.”  NY Times














Steven Spielberg To Complete Stanley Kubrick’s Unfinished Project









Steven Spielberg has been working for the last ten years on a project of seven-part series for the premium cable network based on Stanley Kubrick’s unfinished project for making a movie about Napoleon Bonaparte. Kubrick had planned to film the movie across the Europe and considered to star Jack Nicholson or Al Pacino as Napoleon and Audrey Hepburn as Josephine. Kubrick made an extensive research for decades and despite the remarkable development, MGM studio changed its mind and ended the project. Some notable movie critics believed that it was the result of pressure from the British because Kubrick was an admirer of Napoleon and his film would portray a very positive image of the Emperor. Now Spielberg is pursuing to continue with Kubrick’s unfinished project. We can hope for an interesting series about Napoleon. But Ridley Scott’s new film has been a disappointment from the beginning. In 2020 he chose a humiliating title for the movie about Napoleon. First he chose the title: “Kitbag”. There was an enormous negative feedbacks from all around the world; as the result he changed the title to Napoleon.

The following article in NY Times is about the negative feedbacks that film critics have had about “Englishman’s Napoleon!” The critics in the Boston Globe have had negative reviews and believed that Ridley Scott’s movie has been boring, historically inaccurate and even concluded dishonest. Some negative feedbacks about this film by Ridley Scott even refer to the potential “character assassination plan”! Napoleon Bonaparte was an extraordinary person who had a remarkable character and he was very charming and intelligent with a strong personality and determination. This movie has been a disappointment. It was almost ridiculous that Ridley Scott mentioned “Napoleon came from nothing.” In fact, Napoleon’s father,an aristocrat , and Napoleon’s mother lived in their palatial ancestral home on Corsica. Napoleon’s family were descended from  Italian Tuscan nobles who emigrated to Corsica in the 16th century. Kubrick and Spielberg made decades of research on Napoleon before making any plans for the movie; in sharp contrast, Ridley Scott made an inaccurate, hasty, lazy and almost ridiculous movie without bothering to do some research.

That is a pity that the French film industry hasn’t made a remarkable movie about its national (and even international ) treasure. In 1927, the director Abel Gance made an epic silent movie: « Napoléon » that was remarkable. Let’s hope for Steven Spielberg’ future series about Napoleon.








« 74% des Français pensent que l’Empereur a été bénéfique pour la France. »

“In a national poll conducted this week, 74 percent of respondents with an opinion on Napoleon considered his actions beneficial for France.”

« Patrice Gueniffey, biographe de Napoléon, a aussi vivement attaqué le film dans les colonnes du Point. Pour lui, c’est « une réécriture de l’histoire très anti -française et très pro-britannique. »

“This very anti-French and very pro-English film.”

France Scoffs at an Englishman’s ‘Napoléon 






French critics considered Ridley Scott’s new biopic lazy, pointless, boring, migraine-inducing, too short and historically inaccurate. And that’s just to start.

« The French do not like an Englishman’s rendition of Napoleon.

Or at least, the French critics do not.

Looking grim and moody from under an enormous bicorn hat, Joaquin  Phoenix glowers from posters around Paris, promoting the film by Ridley Scott that offers the latest reincarnation of the French hero whose nose — as one reviewer deliciously wrote- still rises in the middle of French political life two centuries after his death. French critics considered it lazy, pointless, boring, migraine-inducing, too short and historically inaccurate. And that’s just to start.

The critic for the left-wing daily Libération panned the film as not just ugly, but vacuous, positing nothing and “very sure of its inanity.” The review in Le Monde offered that if the director’s vision had one merit, it was “simplicity” — “a montage alternating between Napoleon’s love life and his feats of battle.”

The right-wing Le Figaro took many positions in its breathless coverage, using the moment to pump out a 132-page special-edition magazine on Napoleon, along with more than a dozen articles, including a reader poll and a Napoleon knowledge test. The newspaper’s most memorable take came from Thierry Lentz, the director of the Napoleon Foundation, a charity dedicated to historical research: He considered Phoenix’s version of Napoleon — compared to more than 100 other actors who have played the role — “a bit vulgar, a bit rude, with a voice from elsewhere that doesn’t fit at all.”

All of this was to be expected. As the French writer Sylvain Tesson once famously said, “France is a paradise inhabited by people who think they’re in hell.” How else would you expect a country where the perennial response to “How are you?” is “Not bad” to respond to a historical film about itself?

But to have that film be about a French legend — even one whom many detest — played by an American actor and directed by a British filmmaker?


“This very anti-French and very pro-English film is, however, not very ‘English’ in spirit,” said the historian Patrice Gueniffey, in Le Point magazine, “because the English have never compromised their admiration for their enemy.”

“It’s hard not to see this hasty approach as the historical revenge of Ridley Scott, the Englishman,” assessed the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné. “An Austerlitz of cinema? More like Waterloo.”

Bracing under the waterfall of negative reaction, you begin to wonder whether the criticism reveals more about the French psyche than the nation’s taste in historical cinema.

“When we talk about Napoleon, in fact we are getting at the heart of our principles and our political divisions,” explained Arthur Chevallier, a Napoleon expert who has published five books on the Corsican soldier who seized power after the French Revolution, crowned himself emperor and proceeded to conquer — and later lose — much of Western Europe.

“The common point among all French people is that Napoleon remains a subject that influences our understanding of ourselves, our identity,” Chevallier said.

More than 200 years after his death, the smudge of Napoleon’s fingerprints still liberally decorate the country and its capital: along the streets and metro stations named after his generals and battles; from atop the Arc de Triomphe that he planned; in the gleam of the gold dome of the Invalides, under which his giant marble tomb rises.

Lawyers still follow an updated version of his civil code. Provincial regions are still overseen by prefects — or government administrators — in a system he devised. Every year, high schoolers take the baccalaureate exam that his regime introduced, and citizens are awarded the country’s top honor, which he invented.

Last Sunday, before the film hit theaters here, a French auction house announced that it had sold one of Napoleon’s signature bicorn hats for a record 1.9 million euros, or $2.1 million.

In recent decades, Napoleon’s record for misogyny, imperialism and racism- he reimposed slavery eight years after the revolutionary government abolished it — has come under glaring critical light. But that seems to have simply reinforced the weight of his legacy.

To many, Napoleon is the symbol of a France that has come under assault from what they consider an American import of identity politics and “wokeism.” The latest front page of the weekly far-right magazine Valeurs Actuelles declared him “The Anti-Woke Emperor.” (Its reviewer also panned the film: From the first scene, the viewer knows that “historical accuracy will suffer the guillotine,” wrote Laurent Dandrieu.)

In a national poll conducted this week, 74 percent of respondents with an opinion on Napoleon considered his actions beneficial for France.

“You have the impression that when we talk about him, he’s a living politician,” said Chevallier, who has already seen the film twice and counts himself among its few unabashed French fans.

What he liked, he said, was its different take on Napoleon and the revolution that birthed him and modern France. Instead of a regal leader with insatiable energy and ambition, Joaquin Phoenix portrays a regular grasping mortal who is the product of a bloodthirsty, barbaric upheaval — something that some find “very destabilizing,” Chevallier said, but that he considered interesting and instructive, “because you understand why Napoleon inspired such hate” among other European powers at the time.

He predicted that his fellow citizens who were more cinema fans than history buffs would like the film, which opened to the public on Wednesday.

Some 120,000 people went to see it across France that day — a strong opening, but not a blockbuster like “Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom,” which drew more than 460,000 on its opening day early this year, according to figures collected by C.B.O. Box Office, a firm that collates French box office data.

Moviegoers streaming out of a theater in the Latin Quarter of Paris on Thursday night were not enthused.

Augustin Ampe, 20, said he was all for demystifying Napoleon, but this was just too much. “Here he looks like a clumsy man focused only on his wife,” said the literature student, breaking for a moment from a fierce debate over the film’s failures with his friends. He preferred the mythical figure offered in the books and poems of Chateaubriand and Victor Hugo, he said.

Waiting for her movie date to finish his post-film cigarette, Charline Tartar, a librarian, assessed Phoenix’s rendition as too moany.

“It’s too bad Napoleon looks like a loser,” said Tartar, 27. She thought a French director would have paid more attention to historical accuracy.”

NY Times














The “Treasury of Notre-Dame” Grand Exhibition, at the Louvre



Le Trésor de Notre-Dame de Paris Au musée du Louvre








An elaborate, all-but forgotten ecclesiastical cape worn by an Italian cleric at Napoleon’s coronation in 1804 resurfaced, too. Though it is depicted in a monumental painting by Jacques Louis David that is on display at the Louvre, the cape had never been identified as being worn at the event, and so was stored, anonymously, for more than two centuries.




More than 120 objects, ranging from medieval illuminated manuscripts and a 12th-century bishop’s gold ring to ornately embroidered vestments and multiple reliquaries — which once housed what was said to be Jesus’s crown of thorns and fragments of his cross — are featured in The Treasury of Norte Dame Cathedral , from its origins to Viollet le Duc ( through Jan.29)







« In Paris, Notre-Dame’s Treasures Are on Display. The Curators say examination of some pieces after the cathedral’s 2019 fire turned up notable surprises. The newly renovated Notre-Dame isn’t scheduled to reopen to the public until Dec. 8, 2024, but some of the cathedral’s oldest treasures — survivors of revolutions, regime change and disasters — are now on display at the Louvre.

And, although they had been inside the cathedral for centuries, the existence of some of these pieces came as a total surprise, even to experts.

More than 120 objects, ranging from medieval illuminated manuscripts and a 12th-century bishop’s gold ring to ornately embroidered vestments and multiple reliquaries — which once housed what was said to be Jesus’s crown of thorns and fragments of his cross — are featured in The Treasury of Norte Dame Cathedral , from its origins to Viollet le Duc ( through Jan.29)

The title refers to Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, the celebrated French architect who restored the building in the mid-19th century, adding its spire (which collapsed in the 2019 fire), its famous gargoyles and other features. But he also designed furniture and objects used for ritual and worship, some of which are highlights of the show: an imposing gold vessel, dating to 1867, that was used during devotional ceremonies to display a consecrated host, and an intricately enameled gold dove that served as a receptacle for holy oils.

While Notre-Dame’s sacristy — a separate space, off the choir, which held the cathedral’s treasury — was not touched by the blaze that tore through the building on April 15, 2019, the destruction of the site and its security system meant that all the cathedral’s treasures had to be removed immediately, said Anne Dion-Tenenbaum, a co-curator of the exhibition. Most pieces are now being stored in the Louvre’s Department of Decorative Arts, where she is the deputy director.

“It gave us an opportunity to really study these objects, whose spiritual dimension makes them very striking,” Ms. Dion-Tenenbaum said in an interview. Over time, she and her fellow curators uncovered a few surprises in the treasury, which led them to look in other repositories around Paris and the rest of the country to unravel the mysteries of what was in the treasury, what wasn’t and what it all meant.

One rare document they turned up contained the first known reference to the treasury: In a will dating to the sixth century and written on papyrus, during the first Frankish dynasty of ancient Gaul, a Merovingian noblewoman named Ermentrude left a silver plate worth 60 gold coins to Notre-Dame. And a richly colored prayer book illustration, from around the 15th century, depicted the moment in the early 12th century when what was said to be a fragment of Jesus’s cross arrived at Notre-Dame.

The grand cathedral’s repositories also yielded highly embellished garments from the 19th century, like a cope, or long cloak, in gold cloth embroidered with lilies, peonies and oak branches, made about 200 years ago for King Charles X of France by silk manufacturers in Lyon. An elaborate, all-but forgotten ecclesiastical cape worn by an Italian cleric at Napoleon’s coronation in 1804 resurfaced, too. Though it is depicted in a monumental painting by Jacques Louis David is on display at the Louvre, the cape had never been identified as being worn at the event, and so was stored, anonymously, for more than two centuries. The “Treasury of Notre-Dame” exhibition is its first public showing.

Many objects in the exhibition are not known by Parisians, Ms. Dion-Tenenbaum said, because, in the past, the treasury primarily was visited by tourists. But once the cathedral reopens, she hopes that the French, too, will discover the synergies between Viollet-le-Duc’s renovation of the building and the objects it has held.

“What characterizes this treasure is that it’s a very homogeneous example of the 19th century,” she said. “That the place, its vitrines and its contents are all the work of a single architect gives it a harmony that is unique in the world.” NY Times









Splendeurs et misères du trésor de Notre-Dame





Au musée du Louvre, une exposition inédite des objets précieux de la cathédrale de Paris retrace son destin tourmenté.



« Dans la nuit du 15 avril 2019, les pompiers extraient précautionneusement de Notre Dame en flammes la Couronne d’épines acquise par Saint Louis en 1238 et conservée dans l’enceinte de la cathédrale de Paris depuis 1801. Et le lendemain de l’incendie, c’est au tour des calices, des ciboires, des étoles et des livres anciens d’être sortis un à un de la sacristie pour être acheminés en différents lieux de stockage d’Île-de-France, notamment dans les réserves du Louvre… Mis à part les reliques de la crucifixion, le trésor de Notre Dame n’a pas été directement menacé par le feu, mais il est évidemment impossible de continuer à le conserver dans un lieu désormais privé d’électricité et non sécurisé.

Le transfert spectaculaire du printemps 2019 a marqué les esprits, pourtant il ne constitue que l’un des innombrables épisodes de l’histoire extraordinairement chaotique du trésor de la cathédrale la plus célèbre du monde.

Alors que les travaux de restauration de Notre-Dame entrent dans leur dernière phase et avant que cet ensemble d’objets précieux ne réintègre la sacristie, le Louvre en expose une centaine et tente surtout de reconstituer, depuis ses origines, leur destin mouvementé.

Tout a été fondu. Première surprise ? Contrairement aux trésors de la cathédrale de Sens ou de l’abbatiale de Conques, par exemple, celui de Notre-Dame ne comporte presque aucun objet des périodes médiévale et moderne, puisque tout a été fondu à la Révolution. « Les biens du clergé ayant été nationalisés en 1789, les révolutionnaires commencent par confisquer et envoyer à la cour des Monnaies les objets inutiles au culte, puis, en une seule nuit, en août 1792, ils détruisent toutes les reliques et font fondre l’intégralité de l’orfèvrerie », explique la conservatrice Anne Dion-Tenenbaum, cocommissaire de l’exposition.

Le Louvre réussit cependant à donner aux visiteurs une idée assez nette de la splendeur de ce trésor évanoui, en exposant notamment l’un de ses inventaires dressé en 1438 ou encore un rarissime papyrus du VIe siècle sur lequel sont listés les objets qu’une aristocrate mérovingienne lègue à la « sacro-sainte église de la cité des Parisiens »…

Saut de l’ange. À compter de 1802, date à laquelle la cathédrale est rendue au culte, le trésor est patiemment reconstitué, en particulier au temps de Napoléon qui, pour se démarquer des anciens souverains, choisit de se faire sacrer à Notre-Dame : dans cette cathédrale qui doit à ses yeux supplanter tous les hauts lieux symboliques de l’Ancien Régime (Reims, Saint-Denis), l’empereur fait, entre autres, transférer la Couronne d’épines (alors conservée à la Sainte-Chapelle).

La restauration ouvre ensuite un nouveau chapitre de dons et de commandes fastueuses, mais le trésor subit, au moment de la révolution de 1830, deux sacs rageurs d’émeutiers parisiens. « En juillet 1830, l’archevêché est entièrement pillé par des insurgés, les objets de culte sont saccagés, et nombre d’œuvres sont balancées dans la Seine ou précipitées par la fenêtre », raconte encore Anne Dion-Tenenbaum. Une Vierge en argent offerte par Charles X fait ainsi le saut de l’ange dans le ciel parisien et s’en trouve gravement mutilée. Elle est aujourd’hui visible au Louvre.

Pillage. Un nouveau pillage, en février 1831, endommage cette fois gravement la sacristie néoclassique érigée jadis par Germain Soufflot. C’est évidemment Eugène Viollet-le-Duc qui, ayant remporté avec Jean-Baptiste Lassus le concours pour la restauration de la cathédrale, la reconstruira. Il sera même chargé, dans un souci très moderne d’harmonie entre le contenant et le contenu, d’en dessiner le mobilier liturgique et les reliquaires dont l’exposition montre d’ailleurs plusieurs extraordinaires dessins préparatoires.

Le trésor, jusque-là temporairement stocké dans divers lieux de la capitale, prit place en 1854 dans ce nouvel écrin néogothique. Et si, le jour de ce transfert pour l’éternité, on avait dit à Viollet-le-Duc qu’à peine cent soixante-cinq ans plus tard il en serait à nouveau évacué, sans doute n’y aurait-il pas cru… 

Le Trésor de Notre-Dame de Paris. Des origines à Viollet-le-Duc », au Louvre, jusqu’au 29 janvier 2024. »

Le Point














Français :






Non, dormir peu ne va pas atrophier votre cerveau









Selon une étude publiée dans la revue « Nature », il n’y aurait aucune preuve d’association entre la durée du sommeil et l’atrophie cérébrale.

« Si les auteurs de l’étude n’ont trouvé aucune preuve d’association entre durée du sommeil et atrophie cérébrale, ils ne nous recommandent pas pour autant de changer nos habitudes.

D’après le bulletin épidémiologique hebdomadaire (publié par Santé publique France), les adultes dorment en moyenne 6 h 42 par nuit. Alors que certains ont dû mal à sortir du lit, d’autres dorment peu. Si le manque de sommeil impacte la santé générale, est-ce qu’il altère vraiment le cerveau ? Peut-être pas, à en croire les conclusions d’une récente étude publiée dans la revue scientifique Pour le savoir, des chercheurs de l’université d’Oslo (Norvège) ont analysé 8 153 scanners cérébraux provenant de 3 893 adultes en bonne santé. Ils n’ont trouvé aucune preuve d’une association entre la durée du sommeil et l’atrophie cérébrale. « Les analyses transversales (51 295 observations) ont montré des relations en forme de U inverse, dans lesquelles une durée de 6 h 30 était associée au cortex le plus épais et aux volumes les plus importants par rapport au volume intracrânien », détaillent les scientifiques.

Sept heures de sommeil associées à une bonne santé

Avant de compléter : « Cela concorde avec les données convergentes des recherches sur la mortalité, la santé et la cognition, qui indiquent qu’environ sept heures sont associées à une bonne santé. Les analyses d’association à l’échelle du génome suggèrent que les gènes associés à un sommeil plus long chez les adultes qui ne dorment pas beaucoup sont liés à un sommeil plus court chez les personnes qui dorment plus que la moyenne. » Des conclusions qui remettent en question le lien soupçonné entre un sommeil court et une atrophie cérébrale. Toutefois, l’auteur principal, Anders Fjell, ne recommande pas pour autant de changer ses habitudes de sommeil à la suite des résultats de cette étude.

Le sommeil a également été l’objet d’une autre recherche menée par des neurobiologistes de l’université Northwestern, qui se sont intéressés à l’impact d’une nuit blanche. « Non seulement la libération de dopamine a augmenté pendant la période de perte de sommeil aiguë, mais la plasticité synaptique a été améliorée, recâblant littéralement le cerveau pour maintenir une humeur pétillante pendant les jours suivants », rapportent les auteurs dans le communiqué de l’étude.

Le sommeil n’isole pas vraiment

Enfin, des équipes de l’Institut du cerveau et du service des pathologies du sommeil de l’hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, à Paris, ont constaté que le sommeil n’était pas réellement un état qui isole de l’environnement extérieur. En effet, pendant que nous dormons, nous sommes capables d’entendre et de comprendre des mots.

Les chercheurs ont montré que des dormeurs sans troubles particuliers sont capables de capter des informations verbales transmises par une voix humaine, et d’y répondre par des contractions des muscles du visage. Or, cette capacité étonnante se manifeste de manière intermittente durant presque tous les stades du sommeil – comme si des fenêtres de connexion avec le monde extérieur s’ouvraient temporairement à cette occasion », résume l’Institut du cerveau. Des conclusions relevées dans une nouvelle étude parue dans la revue Nature Neuroscience. »

Le Point























Esperti in dieta mediterranea, nasce un master all’Università  di Pisa






“E’ nato all’Università di Pisa il master di primo livello in Scienze Sensoriali per un’Alimentazione Sana e Consapevole in collaborazione con l’International Academy of Sensory Analysis. Obiettivo del master è rendere più consapevole l’approccio al cibo e più gratificante l’applicazione dei principi di una sana e corretta alimentazione a cominciare dalla dieta mediterranea. Il master è aperto ai laureati in ogni disciplina ed è possibile iscriversi sino al 13 novembre. Le competenze acquisite potranno essere spese in vari settori, dal tecnologico per ottimizzare il profilo sensoriale degli alimenti, alla comunicazione, al marketing, sino all’ambito educativo. Il percorso formativo è organizzato in quattro moduli di cui tre on line, con lezioni concentrate tra il venerdì e il sabato da metà gennaio a metà luglio. Sono inoltre previste sessioni interattive di analisi sensoriale dei principali alimenti che caratterizzano la dieta mediterranea, ad esempio vino, pane e prodotti da forno, olio, formaggi, salumi, cioccolato, caffè. “La dieta mediterranea è spesso citata nei programmi tv che parlano di cucina e di corrette abitudini alimentari per raggiungere il benessere, ma quando proviamo a calare questi concetti nella vita reale arrivano le difficoltà – spiega la professoressa Francesca Venturi dell’Università di Pisa – Sappiamo infatti scegliere il cibo che mangiamo e riconoscerne le caratteristiche al di là delle informazioni nutrizionali che troviamo sulle etichette?”. “In realtà i nostri sensi ci parlano, ci danno indizi – continua Venturi – tuttavia, nella maggior parte dei casi non sappiamo ascoltare quello che il cibo ci racconta oppure ci facciamo distrarre da ciò che è appositamente aggiunto agli alimenti per condizionarci nelle scelte. Da qui l’esigenza del master, per sviluppare un approccio innovativo e consapevole alla scelta dei regimi alimentari”. Il master è promosso dal Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e Agro-ambientali dell’Università di Pisa e dal Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca Nutraceutica e Alimentazione per la Salute Nutrafood. Il costo è di 3600 euro e sono previste agevolazioni e borse.” La Nazione 

























The continuous cases of the art looting & counterfeits





The buyer is usually a person with high purchasing power and social prestige, and does not want to appear to have been deceived.”













Counterfeits are proliferating on the market because of the fraudulent certificates, the hunt for a bargain, and the ability of scammers to deceive collectors.

Juanjo Águila, a captain of the Spanish Civil Guard and head of the Historical Heritage section of the UCO, was interviewed by phone at the Milan airport. With his team, he has been tracking fake works, thefts, looting, and all kinds of art fraud for seven years. According to him, airports are one of the counterfeiters favorite locations to present forgeries onto the market.

And who are the artists whose works are usually counterfeited? All the paintings that have high values: artworks from Sorolla, Juan Gris, Rusiñol, Dalí, Goya. He believes that the Vollard Suite, by Picasso, is the most counterfeited work in the world of modern art. 

The cases are never ending. “And many remain unknown. The buyer is usually a person with high purchasing power and social prestige, and does not want to appear to have been deceived,” Captain Águila continues. Fraudsters know the human nature. “They are very skilled people, they know the ways to get inexperienced people to lower their guard,” he observes. And sometimes it involves millions of dollars. It could be the plot for a series on Netflix. They falsify the certificates, even using real notary seals and use typewriters with ink from the fraudulent time of certification to recreate them. “Sometimes they use books, some have compiled artists’ signatures, and they try thousands of times on thousands of pages, until they are very similar,” adds Águila.

“Sometimes there is complete stupidity. Like a supposed Picasso from 1922 that had a Nazi seal stamped on the painting itself and not on the back [the logical place for it] that the criminals were pretending had been looted. There are also works that are pastiches, but the buyer, usually inexperienced one, purchases it because they believe they are getting a great deal.”

The captain cannot talk about ongoing investigations, such as the theft of Madrid’s Bacons, nor does he provide figures for the pieces, but he warns that the business is booming. Maybe because forging has been going on for centuries. And other countries — according to sources familiar with this “market” — facing the same level of deception as Spain.

How is human error distinguished from deception? For example, The Capitulations of Charles IV (1808), 60 x 80 cm. It even appears referenced in a catalogue. And subjected to expert opinion, the “expert” writes: “The seal stamped here is a guarantee that the painting represented, The Capitulations of Charles IV, was done by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes. The same seal and signature is also found in the authentication document and in the partial photos taken of the painting, where the small signatures are located. The scientific-technical studies having been verified by myself,” signed by the Goya expert technician [with name and surname]. When the painting is shown to someone who is perhaps one of the world’s leading experts on the artist, but prefers not to be cited, he certifies it in two words: “A horror.”

An example of how far greed can go could be the paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and the colossal prices his paintings fetch. Last June, the Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) had to cancel its Heroes and Monsters exhibition because the 25 works on display were all fakes. The FBI seized them immediately.

The history of how these “unknown” works appeared is like the plot from a theatre play. The alleged Basquiats were acquired by screenwriter Thad Mumford (famous for his work in the 1970s on the hit T.V. series M*A*S*H). Then, they were lost for some time until Los Angeles auctioneer Michael Barzman found them by chance at an abandoned storage locker sale. But since Basquiat had lived in Los Angeles in 1982 and had prepared an exhibition for the Gagosian gallery, there was something of a fit. The problem is that the works, most of them on cardboard, were extremely poor quality. Still, business continued.

The fraud was set in motion in 2012 by Barzman himself, beset by financial problems, as he ended up acknowledging; and the bar accused former OMA director Aaron De Groft of being involved. He was fired immediately but he has “categorically” denied having anything to do with the deception even maintained against all logic, that the Basquiats are real. The museum has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Another Basquiat, thousands of miles away, looks real. Kept in the shade, to protect it, for years it had been in a salon of one of the best Spanish collections of American painting from the 1980s and 1990s. A collection of more than 500 works in Castilla-Léon. The owner has declined to publish the image. Although it can be described. A human figure with large teeth and a kind of halo of spikes on its head, standing on a structure of interlocking boards, framed in black and, at its base, two words in large boxes: Ribs and Sports. The painting measures one meter by one meter, and it has been priced at around €12 million ($12.7 million). But it’s a fake. The work was acquired in the 1980s by the collector’s father, who he started the process of authenticating it. “We sent a form to the authentication committee [controlled by Basquiat’s family] with the details of the work, the annotations on the back, the purchase documents, the history [of the provenance] that we had, high-quality photos and a check for the services,” recalls the collector’s son. An expert even came to see it in person. However, the committee ruled that it was not the artist’s.

Sometimes this process is missing from some auction houses that sell works by old masters, without pigment studies or even a simple x-ray, for millions of dollars. Christie’s talks about “detailed cataloguing” and Sotheby’s acquired Orion Analytical Lab in 2016, a tool to prevent this type of fraud. But they have the same problem as always: the anarchy of the unregulated market.

Some institutions try to bring order. “The Prado has not made appraisals,” explains a spokesman for the art gallery, “since the official state bulletin of August 5, 1970, published an order stating that museums that depend on the state should refrain from carrying out appraisals or expert reports on works of art.” Even some conservatives have received death threats. Today it only responds, in writing, to the requests of the Board of Qualification, Valuation and Exportation of Goods (dependent on the Ministry of Culture and Sports). Legally, forgery is not classified as a crime, only if there is an intention to defraud such as presenting it as an original with the aim of making a profit. If found guilty, a fraudster can be given a prison sentence of one to six years, as established under Article 250 of the Spanish Penal Code.”

El Pais

























Getty Images promises its new AI contains no copyrighted art



And it will pay legal fees if its customers end up in any lawsuits about it.












“Getty Images is so confident its new generative AI model is free of copyrighted content that it will cover any potential intellectual-property disputes for its customers. 

The generative AI system, announced today, was built by Nvidia and is trained solely on images in Getty’s image library. It does not include logos or images that have been scraped off the internet without consent. 

Fundamentally, it’s trained; it’s clean. It’s viable for businesses to use. We’ll stand behind that claim,” says Craig Peters, the CEO of Getty Images. Peters says companies that want to use generative AI want total legal certainty they won’t face expensive copyright lawsuits. 

The past year has seen a boom in generative AI systems that produce images and text. But AI companies are embroiled in numerous  legal battles over copyrighted content. Prominent artists and authors- most recently John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, and George R.R. Martin—have sued AI companies such as OpenAI and Stability AI for copyright infringement. Earlier this year, Getty Images announced it was suing Stability AI for using millions of its images, without permission, to train its open-source image-generation AI Stable Diffusion.

The legal challenges have sparked many attempts by others to benefit from generative AI while also protecting intellectual property. Adobe recently launched Firefly, which it claims is similarly trained on copyright-free content. Shutterstock has said it is planning on reimbursing artists whose works have been sold to AI companies to train models. Microsoft recently announced it will also foot any copyright legal bills for clients using its text-based generative models. 

Peters says that the creators of the images—and any people that appear in them—have consented to having their art used in the AI model. Getty is also offering a Spotify-style compensation model to creatives for the use of their work. 

The fact that creatives will be compensated in this way is good news, says an assistant professor at Durham University, who specializes in AI and intellectual-property law. But it might be tricky to determine which images have been used in generated AI images in order to determine who should be compensated for what, she adds. 

Getty’s model is only trained on the firm’s creative content, so it does not include imagery of real people or places that could be manipulated into deepfake imagery. 

“The service doesn’t know who the pope is and it doesn’t know what Balenciaga is, and they can’t combine the two. It doesn’t know what the Pentagon is” says Peters, referring to recent viral images created by generative AI models. 

As an example, Peters types in a prompt for the president of the United States, and the AI model generates images of men and women of different ethnicities in suits and in front of the American flag. 

Tech companies claim that AI models are complex and can’t be built without copyrighted content and point out that artists can opt out of AI models, but Peters calls those arguments “bullshit.” 

“I think there are some really sincere people that are actually being thoughtful about this,” he says. “But I also think there’s some hooligans that just want to go for that gold rush.”

MIT Technology Review




















Français :





Baisse de motivation : que se passe-t-il exactement dans notre cerveau ?









Dans sa Carte blanche au « Monde », la chercheuse en psychologie Sylvie Chokron éclaire les causes de la baisse de motivation, liée à la fois à l’augmentation de la fatigue mentale et à la perte du désir d’aller chercher la récompense suite à l’effort.

Chaque jour, nous réalisons de nombreuses tâches qui nous coûtent. Nous acceptons volontiers de faire cet effort, car nous savons que nous serons récompensés en retour par un salaire, ou simplement par le plaisir d’avoir mené un projet à terme. Parfois, malheureusement, il devient difficile de se motiver ou de se concentrer. A ce stade, on parle de véritable « fatigue mentale ». Si celle-ci survient essentiellement lorsque nous avons épuisé toutes nos ressources intellectuelles, elle peut également être la conséquence d’une fatigue physique ou d’un manque de sommeil.

Exténués, nous voyons tout comme insurmontable et nous sentons bien incapables de mener à bien la moindre activité. Que se passe-t-il à ce moment précis dans notre cerveau ? Est-ce l’effort requis qui nous semble impossible ou bien la récompense qui soudain ne nous semble plus aussi motivante ? Cette question est au centre de recherches récentes qui montrent que ces deux processus pourraient bien contribuer à notre démotivation.

En 2010, Julian Lim et ses collègues de l’université de Pennsylvanie ont installé des participants dans un scanner et leur ont demandé de réagir à une cible en pressant un bouton dès son apparition, et ce, avec une vigilance permanente, pendant vingt minutes. Au fil de l’expérience, ils ont relevé non seulement une augmentation progressive du temps mis à détecter la cible, mais également une sensation de fatigue mentale de plus en plus notable.

Leurs résultats retrouvent une signature cérébrale du coût attentionnel et cognitif dans le réseau pariéto-frontal de l’hémisphère droit. L’activité de ce réseau, très importante au début de la tâche, tend à diminuer à mesure que la sensation de fatigue mentale apparaît. De plus, l’activité cérébrale enregistrée au repos, avant la tâche, dans deux régions du cerveau, le thalamus et le gyrus frontal droit médian, prédit le déclin de la performance au cours de la tâche. Il y aurait donc aussi des marqueurs cérébraux de la fatigue mentale. Mais ce n’est pas tout : plus nous nous sentons fatigués, plus la récompense pourrait bien.”

Le Monde




































 New Study suggests that rise in antibiotic resistance is linked to pollution














The research projects that 23% of deaths associated with this phenomenon could be prevented if the required air quality guidelines were met





“The rise of antibiotic-resistant microbes has put the world on edge: superbugs already kill more people than AIDS, malaria and some cancers. And the short- and medium-term outlook is bleak. The World Health Organization considers this phenomenon to be one of the biggest threats to global health and points to the improper and excessive use of antibiotics as an accelerator of the problem. While the inappropriate consumption of these drugs garners most of the attention, it is not the only cause being studied. New research, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, has also found a correlation between antibiotic resistance and pollution: the more air pollution, the more antibiotic resistance there is.

But the authors admit that their findings are only an association; causality cannot be established, and the exact mechanisms that explain this relationship are not clear. However, the researchers argue that reducing air pollution levels could help reduce antibiotic resistance and project that, if the required air quality guidelines are met, a 17% reduction in antibiotic resistance could be achieved by 2050.

Humans are exposed to superbugs through food or direct contact with infectious sources, such as animals. They can also be infected through water, soil or air. “For example, resistant bacteria in hospitals or livestock could be transmitted to water treatment facilities or ecosystems, and even emitted from these environments into the atmosphere, [thereby] exposing humans [to it] through inhalation,” the authors say in the article.

Air is a vector for disseminating resistance to antibiotics. In this study, the researchers focus on one of the main pollutants, fine particulate matter PM2.5: “It has been shown that [these particles] contain various resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes, which are transferred between environments and inhaled directly by humans, causing respiratory tract lesions and infections,” they explain.

Based on that premise, they analyzed available data from 116 countries between 2000 and 2018 — all told, they studied nine pathogens and 43 drugs — and found that air pollution levels correlate with increased antibiotic resistance. For example, a 1% increase in PM2.5 was associated with a 1.49% increase in resistances of Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria to carbapenems, a type of broad-spectrum antibiotic. “Globally, a 10% increase in annual PM2.5 could lead to a 1.1% increase in aggregate antibiotic resistance and 43,654 premature deaths attributable to antibiotic resistance,” they state in the article. The research concluded that antibiotic resistance stemming from PM2.5 fine particulate matter caused about 480,000 premature deaths worldwide in 2018.

The authors also found regional differences. Africa and Asia are the areas where the increases in PM2.5 could lead to the greatest increase in antibiotic resistance. In Saudi Arabia, for example, the researchers estimate that a 10% increase in PM2.5 would mean a 3% rise in bacterial resistance.

The researchers believe that reducing air pollution can have a double benefit because it can also prevent poor air quality’s harmful effects. The research modeled several future scenarios based on the fluctuation of several variables, such as air quality, healthcare spending and antibiotic use. The study concluded that, if nothing is done in the coming decades (through 2050), antibiotic resistance will increase by 17%, and deaths attributable to this cause will rise by more than 56% worldwide, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. However, if PM2.5 can be controlled to 5 μg/m³— the threshold recommended by the WHO- global antibiotic resistance could be reduced by 16.8%, preventing 23.4% of the deaths attributable to this phenomenon in 2050.

The mechanism is unclear

The researchers concede the limitations of their study. That includes the data with which they worked, as certain countries did not provide all the necessary information. These shortcomings may influence the study’s final results. The researchers also state that there may be other factors that are causing antibiotic resistance: “Additional social, economic and environmental factors — such as food intake, use of veterinary antibiotics, exposure to other contaminants, extreme environmental events, habits and customs — should be introduced to comprehensively assess [their] association with antibiotic resistance,” the article says.

They also note that the study’s other major open question is that “the underlying mechanism of air pollutants affecting antibiotic resistance is still unclear, and additional medical evidence is still needed to verify that information.” The study’s lead a researcher at Zhejiang University’s School of Environmental and Resource Sciences acknowledges the study’s limitations. In an email response, he specifies that “we all know that correlation does not represent causation, and for the sake of rigorous science, we say ‘may be linked.’ In our analysis, we could say that the correlation between air pollution and antibiotic resistance is strong and significant.”

In regard to how the relationship between particulate pollutants and antibiotic resistance can be explained, he says that the “exact mechanism is not clear.” But he adds that, “according to reports in the existing literature, the main mechanism is that the high concentration of PM2.5 carries more bacteria and antibiotic-resistant genes, and direct exposure to these substances can lead to increased antibiotic resistance in the population.”

He also points out that it has already been shown that PM2.5 particles “could increase cell membrane permeability to enhance horizontal gene transfer’s efficiency, accelerating the evolution and exchange of antibiotic resistance elements in bacterial pathogens.”

More questions than answers

He goes on to say that five years ago, he and his team collected a hundred PM2.5 air samples from hospitals, farms and cities, and sputum samples from human airways. “Surprisingly,” he notes, they found “that the abundance of antibiotic resistance genes in PM2.5 air was very high.” Those airborne antibiotic resistance genes, he explains, were going to be directly exposed to the human body. “We found that, together, outdoor and indoor PM2.5 particles contributed to 7% of antibiotic resistance genes in the airways of hospital patients, suggesting an important exchange between air and human commensals. So, we hypothesized that PM2.5 would affect antibiotic resistance, but at the time we didn’t know what kind of impact. Now, using big global data, we [can] confirm that PM2.5 has a significant impact on antibiotic resistance,” he says.

Juan Pablo Horcajada, the director of the Infectious Diseases Service at Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, Spain, calls this research “innovative and provocative,” although he observes that it involves “data correlations and deductions from very different databases.” He adds “that it was already known that elements related to antibiotic resistance could travel in airborne particles, but this is an interesting message,” he says. The specialist in infectious diseases argues that, if a causal relationship between contamination and antibiotic resistance is confirmed, the impact on the future of resistant microbes may be even greater than expected. “Antimicrobial resistance worries us a lot, and that concern is growing. We no longer know which antibiotics to use to treat certain bacteria. It is of great concern because [we see this phenomenon]… in hospitals, primary care and veterinary medicine,” he says.

Kevin McConway, Professor Emeritus of Applied Statistics at the Open University, tells Science Media Centre that “interpreting [these results] requires a great deal of caution.” He notes that while the authors found “interesting correlations and associations, questions remain about cause and effect.” McConway, who was not involved in the research, points out that the data come from countries as a whole, but there can be a lot of variability in air quality, for example, within a single region, and the average results may not represent what is happening in general.

The expert further advises that “it is likely that there are other possible confounders for which they could not collect any data, and it is still possible that there are confounders at work that are involved in the causality of a country’s level of antibiotic resistance.” He stresses that “overall, this observational data analysis and modeling research indicate that it may well be worth looking further into the role of air pollution in relation to antibiotic resistance, but at this stage there remains a great deal of uncertainty about what is actually happening. I would say that the new research raises more questions than it answers.”

El Pais



















There are ways to operate a cryptocurrency using far less electricity by decreasing the computer guesswork but Bitcoin advocates oppose by saying it would affect the safety











“Bitcoin mines cash in on electricity — by devouring it, selling it, even turning it off — and they cause immense pollution. In many cases, the public pays a price.

The computers performing trillions of calculations per second, hunting for an elusive combination of numbers that Bitcoin’s algorithm would accept. About every 10 minutes, a computer somewhere guesses correctly and wins a small number of Bitcoins worth, recently about $170,000. Anyone can try, but to make a business of it can require as much electricity as a small city. The additional power use across the country also causes as much carbon pollution as adding 3.5 million gas-powered cars to America’s roads, according to an analysis by a nonprofit tech company. Seeking Bitcoin, five operations have collectively made at least $60 million from the program since 2020. Several of the companies are being paid through these agreements a majority of the time they operate. Most years, they are asked to turn off for only a few hours, at which point they are paid even more. So-called mining is a fundamental part of the system: When a computer guesses correctly, it updates the ledger and collects six and a quarter new Bitcoins. Then the guessing game begins again.

Initially, hobbyists could win with personal computers, but as the value of each Bitcoin soared — from under $1,000 in 2017 to above $60,000 in 2021 — mining increasingly became an industrial endeavor. (The price has since dropped.)

The only way for miners to better their odds is to add computing power, which requires more electricity. But as the number of guesses increases, the algorithm makes the game more difficult. This has created an energy arms race. Of course, other industries, including metals and plastics manufacturing, also require large amounts of electricity, causing pollution and raising power prices. But Bitcoin mines bring significantly fewer jobs, often employing only a few dozen people once construction is complete, and spur less local economic development.

Their financial benefit flows almost exclusively to their owners and operators. In 2021, the year Bitcoin’s price peaked, 20 executives at five publicly traded Bitcoin companies together received nearly $16 million in salary and over $630 million in stock options. There are ways to operate a cryptocurrency using far less electricity. Last year, Ethereum, the second-most-popular cryptocurrency, reduced the electricity needed to power the network by more than 99 percent by switching its algorithm. Now it rewards people and trusts them to update the ledger because they are willing to put up their own money as collateral, not because they have spent money to power guessing computers, as Bitcoin does.

But Bitcoin advocates oppose changing their algorithm, saying that it has proved resistant to attacks for longer and at a greater scale than any other approach. In practice, they say, the more computers making guesses, the safer the network.” NYTimes

















In A.I. Race, Microsoft and Google Choose Speed Over Caution



The companies usually choose Profit over safety or ethics.



The A.I. technology behind a planned chatbot could flood Facebook groups with disinformation, degrade critical thinking and erode the factual foundation of modern society.





Integrating chatbots into a search engine was a particularly bad idea, given how it sometimes served up untrue details.



Technology companies were once leery of what some artificial intelligence could do. Now the priority is winning control of the industry’s next big thing.




“In March, two Google employees, whose jobs are to review the company’s artificial intelligence products, tried to stop Google from launching an A.I. chatbot. They believed it generated inaccurate and dangerous statements.

Ten months earlier, similar concerns were raised at Microsoft by ethicists and other employees. They wrote in several documents that the A.I. technology behind a planned chatbot could flood Facebook groups with disinformation, degrade critical thinking and erode the factual foundation of modern society.

The companies released their chatbots anyway. Microsoft was first, with a splashy event in February to reveal an A.I. chatbot woven into its Bing search engine. Google followed about six weeks later with its own chatbot, Bard.

The aggressive moves by the normally risk-averse companies were driven by a race to control what could be the tech industry’s next big thing — generative A.I., the powerful new technology that fuels those chatbots.

That competition took on a frantic tone in November when OpenAI, a San Francisco start-up working with Microsoft, released ChatGPT, a chatbot that has captured the public imagination and now has an estimated 100 million monthly users.

The surprising success of ChatGPT has led to a willingness at Microsoft and Google to take greater risks with their ethical guidelines set up over the years to ensure their technology does not cause societal problems, according to 15 current and former employees and internal documents from the companies.

The urgency to build with the new A.I. was crystallized in an internal email sent last month by Sam Schillace, a technology executive at Microsoft. He wrote in the email, which was viewed by The New York Times, that it was an “absolutely fatal error in this moment to worry about things that can be fixed later.”

When the tech industry is suddenly shifting toward a new kind of technology, the first company to introduce a product “is the long-term winner just because they got started first,” he wrote. “Sometimes the difference is measured in weeks.”

Last week, tension between the industry’s worriers and risk-takers played out publicly as more than 1,000 researchers and industry leaders, including Elon Musk and Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak, called for a six-month pause in the development of powerful A.I. technology. In a public letter, they said it presented “profound risks to society and humanity.”

Regulators are already threatening to intervene. The European Union proposed legislation to regulate A.I., and Italy temporarily banned ChatGPT last week. In the United States, President Biden became the latest official to question the safety of A.I.

Tech companies have a responsibility to make sure their products are safe before making them public,” he said at the White House. When asked if A.I. was dangerous, he said: “It remains to be seen. Could be.”

The issues being raised now were once the kinds of concerns that prompted some companies to sit on new technology. They had learned that prematurely releasing A.I. could be embarrassing. Five years ago, for example, Microsoft quickly pulled a chatbot called Tay after users nudged it to generate racist responses.

Researchers say Microsoft and Google are taking risks by releasing technology that even its developers don’t entirely understand. But the companies said that they had limited the scope of the initial release of their new chatbots, and that they had built sophisticated filtering systems to weed out hate speech and content that could cause obvious harm.

Google released Bard after years of internal dissent over whether generative A.I.’s benefits outweighed the risks. It announced Meena, a similar chatbot, in 2020. But that system was deemed too risky to release, three people with knowledge of the process said. Those concerns were reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.

Later in 2020, Google blocked its top ethical A.I. researchers, Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, from publishing a paper warning that so-called large language models used in the new A.I. systems, which are trained to recognize patterns from vast amounts of data, could spew abusive or discriminatory language. The researchers were pushed out after Ms. Gebru criticized the company’s diversity efforts and Ms. Mitchell was accused of violating its code of conduct after she saved some work emails to a personal Google Drive account.

Ms. Mitchell said she had tried to help Google release products responsibly and avoid regulation, but instead “they really shot themselves in the foot.”

Concerns over larger models persisted. In January 2022, Google refused to allow another researcher, El Mahdi El Mhamdi, to publish a critical paper.

Mr. El Mhamdi, a part-time employee and university professor, used mathematical theorems to warn that the biggest A.I. models are more vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks and present unusual privacy risks because they’ve probably had access to private data stored in various locations around the internet.

Though an executive presentation later warned of similar A.I. privacy violations, Google reviewers asked Mr. El Mhamdi for substantial changes. He refused and released the paper through École Polytechnique.

He resigned from Google this year, citing in part “research censorship.” He said modern A.I.’s risks “highly exceeded” the benefits. “It’s premature deployment,” he added.

After ChatGPT’s release, Kent Walker, Google’s top lawyer, met with research and safety executives on the company’s powerful Advanced Technology Review Council. He told them that Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, was pushing hard to release Google’s A.I.

Jen Gennai, the director of Google’s Responsible Innovation group, attended that meeting. She recalled what Mr. Walker had said to her own staff.

Her team had already documented concerns with chatbots: They could produce false information, hurt users who become emotionally attached to them and enable “tech-facilitated violence” through mass harassment online.

In March, two reviewers from Ms. Gennai’s team submitted their risk evaluation of Bard. They recommended blocking its imminent release, two people familiar with the process said. Despite safeguards, they believed the chatbot was not ready.

Ms. Gennai changed that document. She took out the recommendation and downplayed the severity of Bard’s risks, the people said.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, made a bet on generative A.I. in 2019 when Microsoft invested $1 billion in OpenAI. After deciding the technology was ready over the summer, Mr. Nadella pushed every Microsoft product team to adopt A.I.

Microsoft had policies developed by its Office of Responsible A.I., a team run by Ms. Crampton, but the guidelines were not consistently enforced or followed, said five current and former employees.

Despite having a transparency principle, ethics experts working on the chatbot were not given answers about what data OpenAI used to develop its systems, according to three people involved in the work. Some argued that integrating chatbots into a search engine was a particularly bad idea, given how it sometimes served up untrue details, a person with direct knowledge of the conversations said.

Users could become too dependent on the tool. Inaccurate answers could mislead users. People could believe the chatbot, which uses an “I” and emojis, was human.

In mid-March, the team was laid off, an action that was first reported by the tech Newsletter Platforms.

Microsoft has released new products every week, a frantic pace to fulfill plans that Mr. Nadella set in motion in the summer when he previewed OpenAI’s newest model.

He asked the chatbot to translate the Persian poet Rumi into Urdu, and then English. “It worked like a charm,” he said in a February interview. “Then I said, ‘God, this thing.’”

























Da Caravaggio a Bernini, a Palazzo Barberini una mostra racconta le arti a Roma al tempo di Urbano VIII








“La storia di un papato ma soprattutto la storia di una città — Roma — in uno dei suoi periodi di massimo splendore per quanto riguarda le arti e la cultura, con l’esplosione di quel Barocco di cui l’Urbe è da sempre considerata la culla: tutto ciò viene evocato nella mostra L’immagine sovrana. Urbano VIII e i Barberini, inaugurata ieri nel Palazzo di famiglia, dagli anni Cinquanta del Novecento sede museale come Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica.

Un’esposizione allestita in occasione del quattrocentesimo anniversario dell’elezione al soglio di Maffeo Barberini — Urbano VIII — regnante sul più lungo e significativo papato del XVII secolo, dal 1623-1644. Tre i curatori della rassegna: due interni, la direttrice del museo Flaminia Gennari Santori e Maurizia Cicconi, cui si è unito Sebastian Schütze, tra i massimi studiosi internazionali di Casa Barberini. L’Immagine Sovrana — in mostra quadri, sculture, libri, oggetti — intende celebrare il profilo sia culturale sia politico del papa e della sua famiglia, raccontando un’influenza che andò molto oltre le arti e le lettere.

Come è noto Urbano promosse imprese colossali come il baldacchino di San Pietro, disegnato da Bernini, o l’affresco di Pietro da Cortona ancora ammirabile nel grande salone del Palazzo di famiglia, lo stesso dove per l’occasione sono stati esposti — come avveniva all’epoca — alcuni esemplari di arazzi prodotti dall’arazzeria Barberini (una delle imprese del casato).

La mostra è anche l’occasione per ammirare di nuovo «a casa» loro alcuni dei capolavori di una collezione un tempo sterminata ma smembrata nei secoli già dal Settecento e oggi sparsa nei principali musei del mondo (ancora nel 1934 il governo Mussolini abolì il vincolo fidecommissario permettendo agli eredi Barberini di vendere all’estero capolavori da Caravaggio a Dürer). Al netto di prestiti oggi ritenuti impossibili (uno su tutti, il celebre Fauno Barberini, a Monaco) l’esposizione presenta non poche meraviglie in arrivo da vari musei internazionali. Si apre con il ritratto di Urbano VIII non ancora papa, da collezione privata, attribuito in maniera assertiva a Caravaggio mentre la storia dell’arte dibatte da tempo sull’autografia o meno dell’opera (dibattito riportato nella scheda in catalogo).

Si prosegue con i volti, oltre che del papa, dei nipoti, i cardinali Francesco e Antonio, e del principe Taddeo… Ottanta le opere esposte. A Merisi — di cui gli Uffizi hanno prestato il Sacrificio di Isacco, quadro realizzato dal pittore per i Barberini — si aggiungono lavori di Bernini (tra cui il ritratto marmoreo del cardinale Richelieu, dono di casa Barberini al potente porporato, in prestito del Louvre), di Valentin de Boulogne, Nicolas Poussin (La Morte di Germanico, dal Minneapolis Institute of Art, una delle più celebri opere del pittore francese commissionata dal cardinale Francesco) e di Andrea Sacchi, di cui è esposto il Ritratto di Marc’Antonio Pasqualini , il castrato cantore di casa a Palazzo, in arrivo dal Metropolitan di New York.”

Corriere della Sera



















Neuroscience Explains Why You Need To Write Down Your Goals If You Actually Want To Achieve Them








“Why does writing your goals help? It’s an important thing to know; after all, it might seem like a lot of extra work to write something down when you can just as easily store it in your brain, right?

Writing things down happens on two levels: external storage and encoding. External storage is easy to explain: you’re storing the information contained in your goal in a location (e.g. a piece of paper) that is very easy to access and review at any time. You could post that paper in your office, on your refrigerator, etc. It doesn’t take a neuroscientist to know you will remember something much better if you’re staring at a visual cue (aka reminder) every single day.

But there’s another deeper phenomenon happening: encoding. Encoding is the biological process by which the things we perceive travel to our brain’s hippocampus where they’re analyzed. From there, decisions are made about what gets stored in our long-term memory and, in turn, what gets discarded. Writing improves that encoding process. In other words, when you write it down it has a much greater chance of being remembered.

Neuropsychologists have identified the “generation effect” which basically says individuals demonstrate better memory for material they’ve generated themselves than for material they’ve merely read. It’s a nice edge to have and, when you write down your goal, you get to access the “generation effect” twice: first, when you generate the goal (create a picture in your mind), and second, when you write it down because you’re essentially reprocessing or regenerating that image. You have to rethink your mental picture, put it on the paper, place objects, scale them, think about their spatial relations, draw facial expressions, etc. There’s a lot of cognitive processing taking place right there. In essence, you get a double whammy that really sears the goal into your brain.

Study after study shows you will remember things better when you write them down. Typically, subjects for these types of studies are students taking notes in class. However, one group of researchers looked at people conducting hiring interviews. When the interviewers took notes about their interviews with each of the candidates, they were able to recall about 23% more nuggets of information from the interviews than people who didn’t take notes. Parenthetically, if you’re being interviewed for a job, and you want the interviewer to remember you, you better hope he or she is taking notes.

It’s not just general recall that improves when you write things down. Writing it down will also improve your recall of the really important information. You know how when you’re in a classroom setting there’s some stuff the teacher says that’s really important (i.e. it’ll be on the test) and then there’s the not so important (i.e. it won’t be on the test)? Well, one study found that when people weren’t taking notes in class, they remembered just as many unimportant facts as they did important facts (there’s a recipe for a “C”). But when people were taking notes, they remembered many more important facts and many fewer unimportant facts (and that, my friends, is the secret of “A” students). Writing things down doesn’t just help you remember, it makes your mind more efficient by helping you focus on the truly important stuff. And your goals absolutely should qualify as truly important stuff.”















Français :





Pour vivre plus longtemps, il faut dormir mieux








Selon une étude scientifique, il faudrait privilégier la qualité à la quantité du sommeil. Cela irait jusqu’à jouer sur notre espérance de vie.

« Pour bien vivre, il faut bien dormir. Jusqu’ici, rien d’étonnant, c’est une affirmation commune. Sauf que selon Frank Qian, clinicien au Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center de Boston, aux États-Unis, il faut aller plus loin. Selon ses études, il faut privilégier la qualité du sommeil à la quantité. Il a établi les cinq facteurs garantissant un bon sommeil, qu’il a expliqués: « Il faut dormir entre sept et huit heures par nuit, ne pas être sujet à l’insomnie plus de deux fois par semaine, ne pas avoir du mal à s’endormir plus de deux fois par semaine, ne pas utiliser de somnifères et se sentir reposé après le réveil au moins cinq jours par semaine. »

Pour en arriver à de telles conclusions, le chercheur et son équipe ont analysé les données du sommeil de 172 321 personnes, d’une cinquantaine d’années en moyenne, pendant un peu plus de quatre ans. Durant cette période, 8 681 personnes de l’enquête sont mortes. L’étude, qui sera présentée en détail au début du mois de mars, est catégorique : les personnes rassemblant les cinq facteurs du sommeil de qualité « avaient 30 % de risque en moins de mourir toutes causes confondues, 21 % de risque en moins de succomber d’une maladie cardiovasculaire et 19 % en moins de mourir d’un cancer ».

« Je pense que ces résultats soulignent qu’il ne suffit pas d’avoir suffisamment d’heures de sommeil. Il faut vraiment avoir un sommeil réparateur et ne pas avoir trop de mal à s’endormir et à rester endormi. Si les gens ont tous ces comportements de sommeil idéaux, ils sont plus susceptibles de vivre plus longtemps. Donc, si nous pouvons améliorer le sommeil en général, et que l’identification des troubles du sommeil est particulièrement importante, nous pourrons peut-être prévenir une partie de mortalité prématurée », insiste Frank Qian.

Toujours selon cette étude, les hommes sont avantagés s’ils respectent les cinq critères de bon sommeil. Ils gagneraient en effet 4,7 ans d’espérance de vie, contre 2,4 ans pour les femmes. Des chiffres encore inexpliqués, d’autres recherches devront être faites pour déterminer les raisons de cet avantage masculin.

Si les personnes étudiées étaient pour la plupart quinquagénaires, les conclusions sont valables pour tout le monde, selon Frank Qian : « Même dès le plus jeune âge, si les gens peuvent développer ces bonnes habitudes de sommeil consistant à dormir suffisamment, à s’assurer qu’ils dorment sans trop de distractions et à avoir une bonne hygiène de sommeil dans l’ensemble, cela peut grandement bénéficier à leur santé globale à long terme. » Le Point


















Even Chess Experts Perform Worse When Air Quality Is Lower



“There are more and more papers showing that there is a cost with air pollution.”







Here’s something else chess players need to keep in check: air pollution.”




“When people are exposed to higher levels of air pollution, they make more and larger mistakes.”





Cleaner air leads to clearer heads and sharper thinking.





“That’s the bottom line of a newly published study co-authored by an MIT researcher, showing that chess players perform objectively worse and make more suboptimal moves, as measured by a computerized analysis of their games, when there is more particulate matter in the air.

More specifically, given a modest increase in particulate matter, the probability that chess players will make an error increases by 2.1 percentage points, and the magnitude of those errors increases by 10.8%. In this setting, at least, cleaner air leads to clearer heads and sharper thinking.

“We find that when individuals are exposed to higher levels of air pollution, they make much more mistakes, and they make larger mistakes,” says Juan Palacios, an economist in MIT’s Sustainable Urbanization Lab, and co-author of a newly published paper detailing the study’s findings.

The paper, “Indoor Air Quality and Strategic Decision-Making,” published online in the journal Management Science. The authors are Steffen Künn, an associate professor in the School of Business and Economics at Maastricht University, the Netherlands; Palacios, who is head of research in the Sustainable Urbanization Lab, in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP); and Nico Pestel, an associate professor in the School of Business and Economics at Maastricht University.

The toughest foe yet?

Fine particulate matter refers to tiny particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter, notated as PM2.5. They are often associated with burning matter—whether through internal combustion engines in autos, coal-fired power plants, forest fires, indoor cooking through open fires, and more. The World Health Organization estimates that air pollution leads to over 4 million premature deaths worldwide every year, due to cancer, cardiovascular problems, and other illnesses.

Scholars have produced many studies exploring the effects of air pollution on cognition. The current study adds to that literature by analyzing the subject in a particularly controlled setting. The researchers studied the performance of 121 chess players in three seven-round tournaments in Germany in 2017, 2018, and 2019, comprising more than 30,000 chess moves. The scholars used three web-connected sensors inside the tournament venue to measure carbon dioxide, PM2.5 concentrations, and temperature, all of which can be affected by external conditions, even in an indoor setting. Because each tournament lasted eight weeks, it was possible to examine how air-quality changes related to changes in player performance.

In a replication exercise, the authors found the same impacts of air pollution on some of the strongest players in the history of chess using data from 20 years of games from the first division of the German chess league.

To evaluate the matter of performance of players, meanwhile, the scholars used software programs that assess each move made in each chess match, identify optimal decisions, and flag significant errors.

Comparison Impact Size of Air Pollution on Move Quality Across Samples for the Likelihood of Making a Meaningful Error. The figure shows the standardized estimated PM coefficients on the probability of making a meaningful error for each subsample separately. Gray bars represent the results using the full sample of moves, and white bars display the coefficients for the subsample of moves from the 31st to 40th move of the game, just before the time control takes place.

During the tournaments, PM2.5 concentrations ranged from 14 to 70 micrograms per cubic meter of air, levels of exposure commonly found in cities in the U.S. and elsewhere. The researchers examined and ruled out alternate potential explanations for the dip in player performance, such as increased noise. They also found that carbon dioxide and temperature changes did not correspond to performance changes. Using the standardized ratings chess players earn, the scholars also accounted for the quality of opponents each player faced. Ultimately, the analysis using the plausibly random variation in pollution driven by changes in wind direction confirms that the findings are driven by the direct exposure to air particles.

“It’s pure random exposure to air pollution that is driving these people’s performance,” Palacios says. “Against comparable opponents in the same tournament round, being exposed to different levels of air quality makes a difference for move quality and decision quality.”

The researchers also found that when air pollution was worse, the chess players performed even more poorly when under time constraints. The tournament rules mandated that 40 moves had to be made within 110 minutes; for moves 31–40 in all the matches, an air pollution increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter led to an increased probability of error of 3.2%, with the magnitude of those errors increasing by 17.3%.

“We find it interesting that those mistakes especially occur in the phase of the game where players are facing time pressure,” Palacios says. “When these players do not have the ability to compensate [for] lower cognitive performance with greater deliberation, [that] is where we are observing the largest impacts.”

You can live miles away and be affected’

Palacios emphasizes that, as the study indicates, air pollution may affect people in settings where they might not think it makes a difference.

“It’s not like you have to live next to a power plant,” Palacios says. “You can live miles away and be affected.”

And while the focus of this particular study is tightly focused on chess players, the authors write in the paper that the findings have “strong implications for high-skilled office workers,” who might also be faced with tricky cognitive tasks in conditions of variable air pollution. In this sense, Palacios says, “The idea is to provide accurate estimates to policymakers who are making difficult decisions about cleaning up the environment.”

Indeed, Palacios observes, the fact that even chess players—who spend untold hours preparing themselves for all kinds of scenarios they may face in matches—can perform worse when air pollution rises suggests that a similar problem could affect people cognitively in many other settings.

“There are more and more papers showing that there is a cost with air pollution, and there is a cost for more and more people,” Palacios says. “And this is just one example showing that even for these very [excellent] chess players, who think they can beat everything—well, it seems that with air pollution, they have an enemy who harms them.” Management Science



















Firenze, 85% dei cittadini a favore della tramvia.



Il sondaggio

Sempre secondo i dati raccolti dal Comune i cittadini hanno espresso giudizio positivo anche sullo stadio Franchi






“Firenze: I fiorentini promuovono la riqualificazione dell’area di Campo di Marte e lo sviluppo della rete tranviaria: è quanto emerge dalle due indagini statistiche (campione totale di 2400 residenti) realizzate dal Comune di Firenze per conoscere il gradimento sul progetto di ristrutturazione dello stadio Artemio Franchi e la riqualificazione dell’area di Campo di Marte e l’opinione dei cittadini sulle nuove linee della tramvia. Oltre l’85% dei fiorentini (per la precisione 85,3% nel complesso) giudica positivamente la tramvia e l’ampliamento delle reti tranviarie, è stato sottolineato nel corso della conferenza stampa a Palazzo Vecchio.

Oltre il 40% dei fiorentini quotidianamente passa dal Campo di Marte, sia perché ci vive, sia perché è collocato lì il luogo il luogo di studio o di lavoro sia perché comunque quotidianamente ci transita. L’84,6% dei fiorentini sono d’accordo che la ristrutturazione dello stadio sia molto importante per tutta la città, il 68,4% sono quelli più entusiasti. Coloro che invece pensano che questo progetto non sia importante per la città sono circa il 15%. Il quartiere 2, dove sono concentrati i lavori, è quello con il minore numero di persone che giudicano importante il progetto di ristrutturazione dello stadio ma con una percentuale, comunque, di oltre il 77%.  Oltre l’84% dei fiorentini pensa che la ristrutturazione dello stadio migliorerà la capacità attrattiva dell’area di Campo di Marte e sono oltre il 78% coloro che pensano che migliorerà la capacità attrattiva dell’intera città. Oltre il 72% ritiene che ci saranno positive ricadute sulla viabilità dell’area del Campo di Marte mentre circa il 69% pensa che gli effetti sulla viabilità saranno positivi sull’intera città.

L’83% pensa ritiene che questi lavori avranno effetti positivi sui collegamenti dei mezzi pubblici da e verso Campo di Marte mentre il 77% pensa che ci saranno effetti positivi sulla rete dei trasporti pubblici per l’intera città.  Circa il 77% ritiene che il progetto comporterà un miglioramento della disponibilità dei parcheggi nella zona coinvolta dai lavori e il 69% pensa che una maggiore disponibilità di parcheggi avrà effetti positivi anche per tutta la città. 

La riqualificazione dell’area di Campo di Marte porterà anche alla realizzazione di un museo per spazi espositivi e di un auditorium; per questo il 76% dei residenti è d’accordo questa iniziativa avrà influenza sullo sviluppo culturale dell’area e il 73% dei residenti pensa che gli effetti positivi sullo sviluppo culturale ci saranno su tutta la città.  Un progetto di questa portata non può non avere effetti anche sull’economia di zona e più complessivamente cittadina e infatti l’84% dei rispondenti ritiene che ci saranno positive ricadute sullo sviluppo delle attività economiche dell’area mentre il 78% ritiene che si saranno positive ricadute sullo sviluppo economico di tutta la città.  Sulla tramvia il 76,4% dei rispondenti ha dichiarato di aver utilizzato almeno una volta la tranvia, questa percentuale sale all’83,4% se si considerano i giovani tra i 18 e i 30 anni. Oltre il 43% dei rispondenti usano la tranvia almeno una volta al mese e il 7,9% tutti i giorni. Considerando i giovani queste percentuali salgono a 57% e 16%.

I residenti del quartiere 4 sono quelli che utilizzano più frequentemente la tranvia, il 54% la usa almeno una volta al mese; i residenti del quartiere 3 sono invece quelli che la usano di meno: solo il 18% la usa almeno una volta al mese.  Il 54,6% dei rispondenti si è dichiarato molto soddisfatto del servizio tranvia e comunque i soddisfatti nel complesso sono il 95,5% dei fiorentini. Il voto medio è 4,3/5. Tra gli aspetti migliorabili, il 21,3% dei rispondenti ha dichiarato la sicurezza e il 13,2% la pulizia. Il 54,3% dei rispondenti sostiene che non ci sono aspetti migliorabili.  Tra coloro che non utilizzano la tramvia, per il 46,1% il motivo principale è che non copre il percorso di interesse, il 28,7% perché non hanno avuto bisogno e il 24,8% preferiscono muoversi con altri messi.  L’85,3% dei fiorentini è d’accordo con la realizzazione del sistema tranviario nel suo complesso, tra questi il 60,2% sono quelli che hanno espresso il giudizio più elevato sulla realizzazione del sistema tranviario. I fiorentini contrari sono il 14,7% e tra questi il 7,6% sono completamente in disaccordo con la realizzazione della tranvia nel suo complesso. I motivi principali per i quali si è d’accordo con la realizzazione del sistema tranviario sono “perché migliora la viabilità della città” per il 46,7% dei casi, perché riduce le tempistiche degli spostamenti” e “perché consente di coprire meglio tutte le zone della città” con il 43,4% per entrambe le opzioni (si supera il 100% perché sono possibili più scelte). Tra coloro che sono contrari alla tranvia, il 49,0% lo sono perché ritengono non risolva il problema della viabilità e il 42,1% lo sono per il disagio creato dai lavori. 

“I sondaggi ci danno risposte molto incoraggianti – ha detto il sindaco Dario Nardella -. In sintesi, oltre l’85% dei fiorentini giudica positivamente la tramvia e l’ampliamento delle reti tranviarie. Questo giudizio sale se viene dato dai residenti dei quartieri dove le tramvie ci sono: questo significa che chi ha provato il tram, lo usa abitualmente e lo ha vicino casa dà un giudizio molto positivo. Questi dati ci consentono di procedere con fiducia per la realizzazione delle nuove linee”. “Sullo stadio l’85% dei fiorentini giudica l’opera importante – ha continuato il sindaco -. Lo scetticismo da parte dei residenti 2 c’è, è nell’ordine del 20%, e noi lo leghiamo alla preoccupazione per i cantieri e forse anche al fatto che il nuovo stadio porterà un flusso di persone maggiore. Comunque saranno realizzati più parcheggi e una linea del tram che sarà molto utile per abbattere il traffico”. 

“Vedendo questi dati emerge chiaramente l’importanza di andare avanti nell’ampliamento e completamento del sistema tranviario – ha detto l’assessore alla mobilità Stefano Giorgetti -. Anche le risposte degli intervistati dei quartieri dove ancora la tramvia non è stata realizzata, evidenziano la richiesta della infrastruttura che garantisce un trasporto pubblico efficiente e puntuale. Altro dato di grande rilievo è quello del gradimento molto alto nei quartieri già serviti dalla tramvia. In particolare, nei quartieri 4 e 5 emerge che a un grande utilizzo del tram si accompagna un importante uso della bicicletta, a testimonianza di una diffusione dell’intermodalità”.

 La Nazione














For Tech Companies, Years of Easy Money Yield to Hard Times








Rock-bottom rates were the secret engine fueling $1 billion start-ups and virtual attempts to conquer the physical world. But in 2023, reality bites.



“Eighteen months ago, the online used car retailer Carvana had such great prospects that it was worth $80 billion. Now it is valued at less than $1.5 billion, a 98 percent plunge, and is struggling to survive.

Many other tech companies are also seeing their fortunes reverse and their dreams dim. They are shedding employees, cutting back, watching their financial valuations shrivel — even as the larger economy chugs along with a low unemployment rate and a 3.2 annualized growth rate in the third quarter.

One largely unacknowledged explanation: An unprecedented era of rock-bottom interest rates has abruptly ended. Money is no longer virtually free.

For over a decade, investors desperate for returns sent their money to Silicon Valley, which pumped it into a wide range of start-ups that might not have received a nod in less heady times. Extreme valuations made it easy to issue stock or take on loans to expand aggressively or to offer sweet deals to potential customers that quickly boosted market share.

It was a boom that seemed as if it would never end. Tech piled up victories, and its competitors wilted. Carvana built dozens of flashy car “vending machines” across the country, marketed itself relentlessly and offered very attractive prices for trade-ins.

“The whole tech industry of the last 15 years was built by cheap money,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst with Guidehouse Insights. “Now they’re getting hit by a new reality, and they will pay the price.”

Cheap money funded many of the acquisitions that substitute for organic growth in tech. Two years ago, as the pandemic raged and many office workers were confined to their homes, Salesforce bought the office communications tool Slack for $28 billion. Salesforce borrowed $10 billion to do the deal. This month, it said it was cutting 8000 people, about 10 percent of its staff, many of them at Slack.

Even the biggest tech companies are affected. Amazon was willing to lose money for years to acquire new customers. It is taking a different approach these days, laying off 18,000 office workers and shuttering operations that are not financially viable.

Carvana, like many start-ups, pulled a page out of Amazon’s old playbook, trying to get big fast. Used cars, it believed, were a highly fragmented market ripe for reinvention, just the way taxis, bookstores and hotels had been. It strove to outdistance any competition.

The company, based in Tempe, Ariz., wanted to replace traditional dealers with, Carvana said grandly, “technology and exceptional customer service.” In what seemed to symbolize the death of the old way of doing things, it paid $22 million for a six-acre site in Mission Valley, Calif., that a Mazda dealer had occupied since 1965.

Where traditional dealerships were literally flat, Carvana built multistory car vending machines that became memorable local landmarks. Customers picked up their cars at these towers, which now total 33. A corporate video of the building of one vending machine has over four million views on YouTube.

In the third quarter of 2021, Carvana delivered 110,000 cars to customers, up 74 percent from 2020. The goal: two million cars a year, which would make it by far the largest used car retailer.

Then, even more quickly than the company grew, it fell apart. When used car sales rose more than 25 percent in the first year of the pandemic, that created a supply problem: Carvana needed many more vehicles. It acquired a car auction company for $2.2 billion and took on even more debt at a premium interest rate. And it paid customers handsomely for cars.

But as the pandemic waned and interest rates began to rise, sales slowed. Carvana, which declined to comment for this article, did a round of layoffs in May and another in November. Its chief executive, Ernie Garcia, blamed the higher cost of financing, saying, “We failed to accurately predict how all this will play out.”

Some competitors are even worse off. Vroom, a Houston company, has seen its stock fall to $1 from $65 in mid-2020. Over the past year, it has dismissed half of its employees.

“High rates are painful for almost everyone, but they are particularly painful for Silicon Valley,” said Kairong Xiao, an associate professor of finance at Columbia Business School. “I expect more layoffs and investment cuts unless the Fed reverses its tightening.”

At the moment, there is little likelihood of that. The market expects two more rate increases by the Federal Reserve this year, to at least 5 percent.

In real estate, that is trouble for anyone expecting a quick recovery. Low rates not only pushed up house prices but also made it irresistible for companies such as Zillow as well as Redfin, Opendoor Technologies and others, to get into a business that used to be considered slightly disreputable: flipping houses.

In 2019, Zillow estimated it would soon have revenue of $20 billion from selling 5,000 houses a month. That thrilled investors, who pushed the publicly traded Seattle company to a $45 billion valuation and created a hiring boom that raised the number of employees to 8,000.

Zillow’s notion was to use artificial intelligence software to make a chaotic real estate market more efficient, predictable and profitable. This was the sort of innovation that the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen talked about in 2011 when he said digital insurgents would take over entire industries. “Software is eating the world,” he wrote.

In June 2021, Zillow owned 50 homes in California’s capital, Sacramento. Five months later, it had 400. One was an unremarkable four-bedroom, three-bath house in the northwest corner of the city. Built in 2001, it is convenient to several parks and the airport. Zillow paid $700,000 for it.

Zillow put the house on the market for months, but no one wanted it, even at $625,000. Last fall, after it had unceremoniously exited the flipping market, Zillow unloaded the house for $355,000. Low rates had made it seem possible that Zillow could shoot for the moon, but even they could not make it a success.

Ryan Lundquist, a Sacramento appraiser who followed the house’s history closely on his blog, said Zillow realized real estate was fragmented but perhaps did not quite appreciate that houses were labor-intensive, deeply personal, one-to-one transactions.

“This idea of being able to come in and change the game completely — that’s really difficult to do, and most of the time you don’t,” he said.

Zillow’s market value has now shrunk to $10 billion, and its employee count to around 5,500 after two rounds of layoffs. It declined to comment.

The dream of market domination through software dies hard, however. Zillow recently made a deal with Opendoor, an online real estate company in San Francisco that buys and sells residential properties and has also been ravaged by the downturn. Under the agreement, sellers on Zillow’s platform can request to have Opendoor make offers on their homes. Zillow said sellers would “save themselves the stress and uncertainty of a traditional sale process.”

That partnership might explain why the buyer of that four-bedroom Sacramento house, one of the last in Zillow’s portfolio, was none other than Opendoor. It made some modest improvements and put the house on the market for $632,000, nearly twice what it had paid. A deal is pending.

“If it were really this easy, everyone would be a flipper,” Mr. Lundquist said.

The easy money era had been well established when Amazon decided it had mastered e-commerce enough to take on the physical world. Its plans to expand into bookstores was a rumor for years and finally happened in 2015. The media went wild. The retailer planned to open as many as 400 bookstores.

The company’s idea was that the stores would function as extensions of its online operation. Reader reviews would guide the potential buyer. Titles were displayed face out, so there were only 6,000 of them. The stores were showrooms for Amazon’s electronics.

Being a showroom for the internet is expensive. Amazon had to hire booksellers and lease storefronts in popular areas. And letting enthusiastic reviews be one of the selection criteria meant stocking self-published titles, some of which were pumped up with reviews by the authors’ friends. These were not books that readers wanted.

Amazon likes to try new things, and that costs money. It took on another $10 billion of long-term debt in the first nine months of the year at a higher rate of interest than it was paying two years ago. This month, it said it was borrowing $8 billion more. Its stock market valuation has shrunk by about a trillion dollars.

The retailer closed 68 stores last March, including not only bookstores but also pop-ups and so-called four-star stores. It continues to operate its Whole Foods grocery subsidiary, which has 500 U.S. locations, and other food stores. Amazon said in a statement that it was “committed to building great, long-term physical retail experiences and technologies.”

Traditional book selling, where expectations are modest, may have an easier path now. Barnes & Noble, the bricks-and-mortar chain recently deemed all but dead, has moved into two former Amazon locations in Massachusetts, putting about 20,000 titles into each. The chain said the stores were doing “very well.” It is scouting other former Amazon locations.

“Amazon did a very different bookstore than we’re doing,” said Janine Flanigan, Barnes & Noble’s director of store planning and design. “Our focus is books.”

NY Times










Français :








École : ChatGPT, la mort annoncée des devoirs ?








L’intelligence artificielle, interdite dans les écoles new-yorkaises, laisse perplexes certains professeurs de l’Hexagone, qui craignent des « plagiats ».

« Stendhal, Hugo, La Bruyère… Professeure de français au lycée, Anne a corrigé tant de fiches de lecture de classiques de la littérature plagiées de sites Internet, qu’elle assure aujourd’hui « détecter toutes les impostures ». « J’ai l’œil aiguisé : des formules analogues, un style élaboré, aucune faute d’orthographe… » Mais son assurance chancelle à l’évocation de l’intelligence artificielle ChatGPT: « Je dois bien reconnaître que cela me dépasse… »

Lancé en décembre dernier, cet agent conversationnel capable de résoudre des équations complexes comme de rédiger des dissertations en une fraction de seconde inquiète, au-delà d’Anne, une large part de la communauté éducative.

Déjà, le 5 janvier dernier, les écoles publiques de New York interdisaient, sur leurs réseaux, son usage. « Si ChatGPT peut fournir des réponses rapides et faciles à des questions, il ne permet pas de développer la pensée critique et les compétences en matière de résolution de problèmes, qui sont essentielles à la réussite scolaire et tout au long de la vie », justifiait alors la porte-parole de la ville, Jenna Lyle, à CNN.

« Confier ses devoirs à un robot »

« Que les élèves puissent confier leurs devoirs à un robot et produire un texte sans le moindre effort est très préoccupant », abonde Anne, qui a testé l’AI [intelligence artificielle, NDLR] et demeure « stupéfaite » par ses potentialités (« On peut même lui imposer des contraintes de longueur ! »). Un « plagiat 2.0 » qui préoccupe, aussi, les professeurs du supérieur : « Cet outil est forcément une mauvaise nouvelle, confie ainsi Paul Cassia, professeur de droit à l’université Paris 1. Car c’est le cœur de notre métier que d’apprendre aux étudiants à penser par eux-mêmes… »

Et si l’intelligence artificielle reste à affiner (elle puise encore dans des éléments erronés ou obsolètes), elle déconcerte, aussi, parce qu’elle pourrait redéfinir les méthodes d’évaluation. « Si demain, les copies générées par ChatGPT sont parfaitement indétectables, alors cela pourrait signer la fin des devoirs à la maison », augure le professeur. Une fébrilité qui n’a pas échappé aux ingénieurs d’OpenAI [l’entreprise à l’origine de l’agent conversationnel], qui déjà développent un nouvel outil capable de détecter un texte généré par l’intelligence artificielle. Proposant une voie entre interdiction pure et usage débridé.

« Le plagiat a toujours existé »

« Bannir un outil n’a jamais empêché les élèves – qui savent parfaitement contourner les règles – de l’employer », rappelle à ce titre Marie-Astrid Chauviré, professeure d’histoire-géographie au collège, qui voit dans l’apparition de ChatGPT se rejouer celle de Google, une quinzaine d’années auparavant. « Le plagiat a toujours existé, il prend juste des formes nouvelles. Au fond, utiliser une intelligence artificielle n’est pas moins juste que se faire aider par ses parents… », expose, fataliste, la professeure.

Est-ce à dire que la lutte est perdue d’avance ? Pas si l’on considère « les limites » de l’outil. « Je le mets au défi de savoir sur quels points de mon cours j’ai insisté et attends des copies de mes élèves », sourit Marie-Astrid Chauviré. Sans compter que ces derniers devront encore passer le « crash test » du devoir sur table : « Il y a des constantes. Si les connaissances ne sont pas acquises, les élèves ne réussiront jamais les examens de fin d’année… »

Le Point


















The  Doctors Who Prescribe HealthyFoods Instead of Medications:
Do they make the pharmaceuticals unhappy and the patients healthy?






“Research shows food prescriptions by medical professionals can improve well-being. Daphne Miller: “Ever since I was a doctor fresh out of residency, I have prescribed food to my patients to prevent and treat chronic health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. But health insurance had never covered the cost of a healthy meal, which means some patients cannot afford the healthy diet I’ve given them.

That has recently changed in California and a handful of other states, where Medicaid now covers some food targeting patients with diet-related conditions. As a result, I now prescribe “Medically Supportive Food,” or MSF, for some patients — a weekly bag of groceries, or up to three daily meals — paid for by insurance as if it were a medication.

This move to embrace “food as medicine” is bolstered by research showing that food prescriptions by medical professionals can cut health-care costs and improve well-being, especially for those who do not have the resources to access healthy food.

According to the recent study, researchers estimated that offering a nationwide “medically tailored meal” benefit to individuals with such conditions as heart disease, cancer and diabetes could save $185.1 billion in medical costs and avert more than 18 million hospitalizations over a 10-year period. For those who see food as an integral part of healing, this is a monumental step forward. But prescribing food is not as straightforward as it sounds.

Food is more complex than any pill. This makes it difficult for doctors and patients to know which medically tailored foods are the best medicine and which suppliers can best deliver these edible therapies.

Michelle Kuppich, a registered dietitian is concerned about the quality of some of the food entering this growing medical marketplace.

“There are many new companies coming into this space because there is money involved and people want the health-care dollars,” Kuppich said. She said she suspects that some of them “started off selling prepared meals for weight loss and then rebranded.”

Kuppich has found it challenging to get information about the nutritional value of some of the food being sold. “There is a lack of transparency in terms of ingredients,” she said.

Health-care providers also face a challenge of identifying which vendors offer food that appeals to the taste buds — and the soul.

None of these food interventions work if the people don’t want to eat the food,” said Seth Berkowitz, a researcher who led some food is medicine pilot studies and is now an associate professor in general medicine and clinical epidemiology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He described food as offering gastronomic pleasure, cultural connection and family memories.

Berkowitz said national vendors offer “an economy of scale” that keeps costs down, but the pilot studies he was involved with in Boston that showed positive results had received their food from a nonprofit group that says it serves “scratch-made” meals and buys from local farmers.

“Mission-driven organizations may offer benefits,” Berkowitz said. “It remains to be seen whether the secret sauce that made those small efforts work can be scaled.”

The lack of standardization made it hard, for instance, for Dennis Hsieh, a physician and chief medical officer of the Contra Costa Health Plan based in California, to choose among the food vendors bidding to fill the food prescriptions for his plan’s enrollees.

Hsieh has extensive experience contracting with medical supply companies for drugs and other health-care products, but this is his first foray into the food sector. He said he received little guidance from California’s Department of Health Care Services about what he should be buying.

Some of the vendors are offering food that is just as ultra processed as fast-food meals that Hsieh hopes to avoid. Ultra-processed foods have been linked with chronic diseases and a higher risk of early death.

Also there’s a real challenge in identifying which suppliers provide the most nutritious food.” NY Times









Luddite Teens:
promoting a lifestyle of self-liberation from social media and technology,
Don’t Want Your Likes







On a brisk recent Sunday, a band of teenagers met on the steps of Central Library on Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to start the weekly meeting of the Luddite Club, a high school group that promotes a lifestyle of self-liberation from social media and technology. As the dozen teens headed into Prospect Park, they hid away their iPhones — or, in the case of the most devout members, their flip phones, which some had decorated with stickers and nail polish.

They marched up a hill toward their usual spot, a dirt mound located far from the park’s crowds. Among them was Odille Zexter-Kaiser, a senior at Edward R. Murrow High School in Midwood, who trudged through leaves in Doc Martens and mismatched wool socks.

“It’s a little frowned on if someone doesn’t show up,” Odille said. “We’re here every Sunday, rain or shine, even snow. We don’t keep in touch with each other, so you have to show up.”

After the club members gathered logs to form a circle, they sat and withdrew into a bubble of serenity.

Some drew in sketchbooks. Others painted with a watercolor kit. One of them closed their eyes to listen to the wind. Many read intently — the books in their satchels included Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” Art Spiegelman’s “Maus II” and “The Consolation of Philosophy” by Boethius. The club members cite libertine writers like Hunter S, Thompson and Jack Kerouac as heroes, and they have a fondness for works condemning technology, like “Player Piano” by Kurt Vonnegut. Arthur, the bespectacled PBS aardvark, is their mascot.

Lots of us have read this book called ‘Into the Wild,’” said Lola Shub, a senior at Essex Street Academy, referring to Jon Krakauer’s 1996 nonfiction book about the nomad Chris McCandless, who died while trying to live off the land in the Alaskan wilderness. “We’ve all got this theory that we’re not just meant to be confined to buildings and work. And that guy was experiencing life. Real life. Social media and phones are not real life. When I got my flip phone, things instantly changed,” Lola continued. “I started using my brain. It made me observe myself as a person. I’ve been trying to write a book, too. It’s like 12 pages now.”

Briefly, the club members discussed how the spreading of their Luddite gospel was going. Founded last year by another Murrow High School student, Logan Lane, the club is named after Ned Ludd , the folkloric 18th-century English textile worker who supposedly smashed up a mechanized loom, inspiring others to take up his name and riot against industrialization.

“I just held the first successful Luddite meeting at Beacon,” said Biruk Watling, a senior at Beacon High School in Manhattan, who uses a green-painted flip phone with a picture of a Fugees-era Lauryn Hill pasted to it.

“I hear there’s talk of it spreading at Brooklyn Tech,” someone else said.

A few members took a moment to extol the benefits of going Luddite.

Jameson Butler, a student in a Black Flag T-shirt who was carving a piece of wood with a pocketknife, explained: “I’ve weeded out who I want to be friends with. Now it takes work for me to maintain friendships. Some reached out when I got off the iPhone and said, ‘I don’t like texting with you anymore because your texts are green.’ That told me a lot.”

Vee De La Cruz, who had a copy of “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. Du Bois, said: “You post something on social media, you don’t get enough likes, then you don’t feel good about yourself. That shouldn’t have to happen to anyone. Being in this club reminds me we’re all living on a floating rock and that it’s all going to be OK.”

A few days before the gathering, after the 3 p.m. dismissal at Murrow High school, a flood of students emerged from the building onto the street. Many of them were staring at their smartphones, but not Logan, the 17-year-old founder of the Luddite Club.

Down the block from the school, she sat for an interview at a coffee shop. She wore a baggy corduroy jacket and quilted jeans that she had stitched herself using a Singer sewing machine.

“We have trouble recruiting members,” she said, “but we don’t really mind it. All of us have bonded over this unique cause. To be in the Luddite Club, there’s a level of being a misfit to it.” She added: “But I wasn’t always a Luddite, of course.”

It all began during lockdown, she said, when her social media use took a troubling turn.

“I became completely consumed,” she said. “I couldn’t not post a good picture if I had one. And I had this online personality of, ‘I don’t care,’ but I actually did. I was definitely still watching everything.”

Eventually, too burned out to scroll past yet one more picture-perfect Instagram selfie, she deleted the app.

“But that wasn’t enough,” she said. “So I put my phone in a box.”

For the first time, she experienced life in the city as a teenager without an iPhone. She borrowed novels from the library and read them alone in the park. She started admiring graffiti when she rode the subway, then fell in with some teens who taught her how to spray-paint in a freight train yard in Queens. And she began waking up without an alarm clock at 7 a.m., no longer falling asleep to the glow of her phone at midnight. Once, as she later wrote in a text titled the “Luddite Manifesto,” she fantasized about tossing her iPhone into the Gowanus Canal.

While Logan’s parents appreciated her metamorphosis, particularly that she was regularly coming home for dinner to recount her wanderings, they grew distressed that they couldn’t check in on their daughter on a Friday night. And after she conveniently lost the smartphone they had asked her to take to Paris for a summer abroad program, they were distraught. Eventually, they insisted that she at least start carrying a flip phone.

“I still long to have no phone at all,” she said. “My parents are so addicted. My mom got on Twitter, and I’ve seen it tear her apart. But I guess I also like it, because I get to feel a little superior to them.”

At an all-ages punk show, she met a teen with a flip phone, and they bonded over their worldview. “She was just a freshman, and I couldn’t believe how well read she was,” Logan said. “We walked in the park with apple cider and doughnuts and shared our Luddite experiences. That was the first meeting of the Luddite Club.” This early compatriot, Jameson Butler, remains a member.

When school was back in session, Logan began preaching her evangel in the fluorescent-lit halls of Murrow. First she convinced Odille to go Luddite. Then Max. Then Clem. She hung homemade posters recounting the tale of Ned Ludd onto corridors and classroom walls.

At a club fair, her enlistment table remained quiet all day, but little by little the group began to grow. Today, the club has about 25 members, and the Murrow branch convenes at the school each Tuesday. It welcomes students who have yet to give up their iPhones, offering them the challenge of ignoring their devices for the hourlong meeting (lest they draw scowls from the die-hards). At the Sunday park gatherings, Luddites often set up hammocks to read in when the weather is nice.

As Logan recounted the club’s origin story over an almond croissant at the coffee shop, a new member, Julian, stopped in. Although he hadn’t yet made the switch to a flip phone, he said he was already benefiting from the group’s message. Then he ribbed Logan regarding a criticism one student had made about the club.

“One kid said it’s classist,” he said. “I think the club’s nice, because I get a break from my phone, but I get their point. Some of us need technology to be included in society. Some of us need a phone.”

“We get backlash,” Logan replied. “The argument I’ve heard is we’re a bunch of rich kids and expecting everyone to drop their phones is privileged.”

After Julian left, Logan admitted that she had wrestled with the matter and that the topic had spurred some heated debate among club members.

“I was really discouraged when I heard the classist thing and almost ready to say goodbye to the club,” she said. “I talked to my adviser, though, and he told me most revolutions actually start with people from industrious backgrounds, like Che Guevara. We’re not expecting everyone to have a flip phone. We just see a problem with mental health and screen use.”

Logan needed to get home to meet with a tutor, so she headed to the subway. With the end of her senior year in sight, and the pressures of adulthood looming, she has also pondered what leaving high school might mean for her Luddite ways.

“If now is the only time I get do this in my life, then I’m going to make it count,” she said. “But I really hope it won’t end.”

On a leafy street in Cobble Hill, she stepped into her family’s townhouse, where she was greeted by a goldendoodle named Phoebe, and she rushed upstairs to her room. The décor reflected her interests: There were stacks of books, graffitied walls and, in addition to the sewing machine, a manual Royal typewriter and a Sony cassette player.

In the living room downstairs, her father, Seth Lane, an executive who works in I.T., sat beside a fireplace and offered thoughts on his daughter’s journey.

“I’m proud of her and what the club represents,” he said. “But there’s also the parent part of it, and we don’t know where our kid is. You follow your kids now. You track them. It’s a little Orwellian, but we’re the helicopter parent generation. So when she got rid of the iPhone, that presented a problem for us, initially.”

He’d heard about the Luddite Club’s hand-wringing over questions of privilege.

“Well, it’s classist to make people need to have smartphones, too, right?” Mr. Lane said. “I think it’s a great conversation they’re having. There’s no right answer.”

A couple days later, as the Sunday meeting of the Luddite Club was coming to an end in Prospect Park, a few of the teens put away their sketchbooks and dog-eared paperbacks while others stomped out a tiny fire they had lit. It was the 17th birthday of Clementine Karlin-Pustilnik and, to celebrate, the club wanted to take her for dinner at a restaurant on Fort Hamilton Parkway.

Night was falling on the park as the teens walked in the cold and traded high school gossip. But a note of tension seemed to form in the air when the topic of college admissions came up. The club members exchanged updates about the schools they had applied to across the country. Odille reported getting into the State University of New York at Purchase.

“You could totally start a Luddite Club there, I bet,” said Elena Scherer, a Murrow senior.

Taking a shortcut, they headed down a lonely path that had no park lamps. Their talk livened when they discussed the poetry of Lewis Carroll, the piano compositions of Ravel and the evils of TikTok. Elena pointed at the night sky.

“Look,” she said. “That’s a waxing gibbous. That means it’s going to get bigger.”

As they marched through the dark, the only light glowing on their faces was that of the moon.”

Alex Vadukul










Français :





LibéCare. Pensez la santé demain : enquête
Médecine du futur : avec l’IA, l’algorithme sous la peau










« Grâce aux avancées scientifiques américaines sur l’intelligence artificielle, notamment dans le domaine de l’imagerie médicale, les médecins pourraient prédire des maladies lointaines à l’aide d’ordinateurs gavés de données.

Un seul cliché du thorax suffit à prédire l’avenir. On le soumet non pas au radiologue, mais à l’ordinateur : le logiciel l’analyse de son œil expert et annonce le risque pour le patient de faire une attaque cardiaque dans les dix ans à venir… Ce genre de scénario ressemblait encore à une pure science-fiction il y a quelques années, mais il devient parfaitement réel, et même banal, grâce à l’intelligence artificielle. Les algorithmes font faire des bonds de géant à la médecine, particulièrement dans le domaine de l’imagerie médicale où ils excellent. Certains logiciels détectent les rétinopathies aussi bien qu’un ophtalmologue, d’autres trouvent les masses suspectes dans les mammographies ou des microfissures dans les radios du poignet…

Mais ce sont donc les attaques cardiaques qui étaient au cœur des discussions au rassemblement annuel de la Société radiologique d’Amérique du Nord. On y a présenté les résultats d’un projet mené au Massachusetts General Hospital, rattaché à la faculté de médecine de Harvard, avec ce nouvel algorithme capable de prédire les risques d’AVC. C’est un exercice pas si évident pour le radiologue car il y a plusieurs organes à examiner et plusieurs facteurs à combiner. On peut remarquer «si le cœur est très gros ou s’il présente une malformation», comme l’explique la cardiologue américaine Nicole Weinberg au média Medical News Today, mais aussi «voir si l’aorte paraît élargie ou s’il y a des dépôts de calcium, qui ressortent à la radio. On peut aussi voir dans le tissu pulmonaire s’il y a une accumulation de fluide […], qui peut traduire une insuffisance cardiaque.»

Volume de données inimaginable»

Pour scruter tous ces endroits à la fois et savoir quoi en conclure, l’algorithme a été entraîné par un processus d’apprentissage automatique. On l’a «nourri» en lui montrant plus de 147 000 radios de thorax provenant de 40 000 patients, en le renseignant pour chaque cliché sur l’existence – ou non – d’une pathologie cardiovasculaire. Après avoir ingurgité cette montagne d’exemples, qui représentent l’équivalent de toute une carrière de radiologue, le logiciel sait se débrouiller seul. Il repère les indices dans les images et établit des prédictions fiables. «La beauté de cette approche est qu’elle nécessite seulement une image aux rayons X, comme on en fait des millions par jour à travers le monde», se réjouit le radiologue Jakob Weiss, auteur principal de l’étude du Massachusetts General Hospital. «Une seule image permet de prédire des épisodes futurs d’événements cardiovasculaires majeurs avec la même efficacité que les évaluations cliniques actuelles», basées sur toute une liste de critères comme l’âge, le sexe, l’hypertension, le diabète, la consommation de tabac, des tests sanguins…

L’intelligence artificielle a un potentiel gigantesque pour ces prédictions médicales lointaines. «Comprendre vraiment les besoins d’un patient à long terme, et pas uniquement ses problèmes transitoires, demande d’avoir un volume de données inimaginable : le génome, des données démographiques, l’historique médical, les facteurs environnementaux… détaille au magazine Forbes Tony Ambrozie, responsable de l’information pour le réseau d’hôpitaux Baptist Health en Floride. De manière réaliste, il est impossible pour les professionnels de santé de faire ces analyses manuellement. L’apprentissage automatique évolue vers des solutions qui effectuent automatiquement ce vaste traitement de données, pour aider les praticiens à mettre au point des parcours de soins sûrs et personnalisés pour leurs patients.»

Copie numérique du cerveau

En France, le projet Aramis est développé à l’Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique pour tester un modèle informatique de cerveau humain qui combine plusieurs sources de données acquises sur des patients suivis dans la durée : la génétique, l’imagerie médicale et les données cliniques (des tests neurologiques par exemple). On recrée ainsi une sorte de copie numérique de leur cerveau, un cerveau de «patient virtuel» que l’on peut faire vieillir informatiquement pour voir quelles maladies il est susceptible de développer. L’espoir est que dans quelques années, l’algorithme sera suffisamment entraîné pour prédire un scénario de vieillissement du cerveau à partir de quelques données sur un patient, et estimer par exemple quelles sont ses chances de développer la maladie d’Alzheimer à un horizon de deux, trois ou cinq ans. Loin de déshumaniser la médecine, l’intelligence artificielle utilisée comme aide au pronostic devrait au contraire permettre une prise en charge plus précoce et plus juste des patients. » Libération













“lo smartphone, ormai, non è più uno strumento, ma è diventato un’appendice del corpo.”
“Un sistema di schiavitù nel quale, grazie al consumismo e al divertimento, gli schiavi amano la loro schiavitù.”








“Sono gli effetti che l’uso, che nella maggior parte dei casi non può che degenerare in abuso, di smartphone e videogiochi produce sui più giovani. Niente di diverso dalla cocaina. Stesse, identiche, implicazioni chimiche, neurologiche, biologiche e psicologiche.

È quanto sostengono, ciascuno dal proprio punto di vista « scienti- fico », la maggior parte dei neurologi, degli psichiatri, degli psicologi, dei pedagogisti, dei grafologi, degli esponenti delle Forze dell’ordine auditi. Un quadro oggettivamente allarmante, anche perché evidentemente destinato a peggiorare.

Sono questi, oggi, i nostri modelli. Modelli avanzatissimi già da anni quanto a diffusione della tecnologia digitale, perciò anticipatori degli effetti che il crescente uso di smartphone e videogiochi produrrà fatalmente sui nostri figli, sui nostri nipoti, sui nostri amici, su di noi e di conseguenza sulla società in cui viviamo.

Sono giovani tra i dodici e i venticinque anni che si sono completamente isolati dalla società. Non studiano, non lavorano, non socializzano. Vegetano chiusi nelle loro camerette perennemente connessi con qualcosa che non esiste nella realtà. Gli hikikomori in Giappone sono circa un milione. Un milione di zombi.

Tutte le ricerche internazionali citate nel corso del ciclo di audizioni giungono alla medesima conclusione: il cervello agisce come un muscolo, si sviluppa in base all’uso che se ne fa e l’uso di dispositivi digitali (social e videogiochi), così come la scrittura su tastiera elettronica invece della scrittura a mano, non sollecita il cervello. Il muscolo, dunque, si atrofizza. Detto in termini tecnici, si riduce la neuroplasticità, ovvero lo sviluppo di aree cerebrali responsabili di singole funzioni.

Mai prima d’ora una rivoluzione tecnologica, quella digitale, aveva scatenato cambiamenti così profondi, su una scala così ampia e in così poco tempo. Il motivo è evidente, lo smartphone, ormai, non è più uno strumento, ma è diventato un’appendice del corpo. Soprattutto nei più giovani. Un’appendice da cui, oltre ad un’infinita gamma di funzioni, in larga parte dipendono la loro autostima e la loro identità. È per questo che risulta così difficile convincerli a farne a meno, a mettere da parte il telefonino almeno per un po’: per loro, privarsene è doloroso e assurdo quanto subire l’amputazione di un arto.

Usarlo incessantemente è dunque naturale. È naturale perché questo li inducono a fare le continue sollecitazioni di algoritmi programmati apposta per adescarli e tenerli connessi il più a lungo possibile. È naturale perché a disconnettersi percepiscono la sgradevole sensazione di essere « tagliati fuori », esclusi, emarginati. È naturale anche e soprattutto perché essere connessi è irresistibilmente piacevole, dal momento che l’uso del digitale che ne fanno i più giovani, prevalentemente social e videogiochi, favorisce il rilascio di dopamina, il neurotrasmettitore della sensazione di piacere.

A tutto ciò vanno sommate le conseguenze sui più giovani dell’essere costantemente a contatto con chiunque e con qualsiasi cosa. Istigazione al suicidio, adescamento, sexting, bullismo, revenge porn: tutti reati in co- stante crescita. Reati facilitati dal fatto che nelle nuove piazze virtuali non trovano spazio le regole in vigore nelle vecchie piazze reali: vige l’ano- nimato, i controlli sono scarsi, i minori vi si avventurano senza alcuna sorveglianza da parte dei genitori.

Non si tratta di dichiarare guerra alla modernità, ma semplicemente di governare e regolamentare quel mondo virtuale nel quale, secondo le ultime stime, i più giovani trascorrono dalle quattro alle sei ore al giorno. Si tratta di evitare che si realizzi fino in fondo quella « dittatura perfetta » vaticinata da Aldous Huxley quando la televisione doveva ancora entrare in tutte le case e lo smartphone aveva la concretezza di un’astrazione fantascientifica: « Una prigione senza muri in cui i prigionieri non sognano di evadere. Un sistema di schiavitù nel quale, grazie al consumismo e al divertimento, gli schiavi amano la loro schiavitù ».

Giovani schiavi resi drogati e decerebrati: gli studenti italiani. I nostri figli, i nostri nipoti. In una parola, il nostro futuro.”

Corriere della Sera









Largest exhibition of Guido Reni—

Frankfurt’s Städel Museum will present around 130 of his paintings, drawings and etchings

“ Bologna’s supreme Baroque artist, Guido Reni (1575-1642), was known in his lifetime as “the divine”, referring to his celestial talents and subject matter.

Frankfurt’s Städel Museum hopes to bring the lustre back to Reni’s star this month by presenting around 130 of his paintings, drawings and etchings in Guido Reni: The Divine. The exhibition, which also includes some 35 comparative works of art and other objects, comprises the largest number of autograph works by the artist brought together in one place, says the exhibition curator Bastian Eclercy, who is the Städel’s expert in Italian Renaissance and Baroque painting.

Divine”—an epithet that Reni’s contemporaries also used to remark on his diva-like manner—is a concise word for summing up the artist’s oeuvre, which was concerned almost exclusively with Christian and mythological imagery. Basking in the patronage of Rome’s Borghese family, he was able to break away from early influences, such as the Carracci clan of his native Bologna and Caravaggio himself, and arrive at an elegant, harmonious synthesis of earlier styles.

The show, which begins with a biographical overview, establishes Reni as a contradictory character who was deeply religious Eclercy says, as well as a high-earning compulsive gambler who “lost in the evening what he earned in the morning”. Reni’s Madonnas—which launched centuries of imitations and, his harshest critics might suggest, paved the way for religious kitsch—are represented here with pathos-filled iterations, including Immaculate Conception (1627) on loan from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Eclercy says Reni showed no outward signs of a romantic life. In his dynamic retelling of the myth of Hippomenes and Atalanta (around 1615-18), Reni has the apple-seeking huntress bending away from her gorgeous would-be suitor, as he makes his own star turn. The life-size work, which has recently undergone conservation treatment, is on loan from Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado, whose own Reni show next spring will share around 30 core works with the Städel’s (28 March-9 July 2023).

Eclercy has incorporated new findings and theories in the show, including the argument that David with the Head of Goliath, a recently cleaned painting on loan from France’s Musée des Beaux-Arts in Orléans, should be regarded as another autograph version, and possibly earlier than the version at the Musée du Louvre, long thought to have come first. Meanwhile, a remarkable loan from the Louvre serves as the show’s centerpiece: in the Allegory of the Union of Drawing and Painting (around 1625), the handsome youth representing drawing is gazing into the eyes of the beautifully adorned maiden who stands for painting. Reni’s depiction of heterosexual love is a match made in heaven.”

The Art Journal





Français :




Pour s’offrir une maison de 100 m² en Île-de-France, le coût du crédit flambe






À cause de l’envolée des taux et des prix immobiliers en région parisienne, les mensualités des emprunteurs ne cessent de grimper.

« Sauf si vous achetez sans emprunt, rares sont les ménages qui sont sûrs d’avoir un crédit immobilier», affirme Maël Bernier, de Meilleurtaux. Même des quadras aisés, qui achètent un nouveau logement, peuvent être refoulés. «Il y a un peu moins de jeunes acheteurs à Paris, en sachant que la majorité des acquisitions immobilières, dans la capitale, sont des secundo accédants», analyse Me Thierry Delesalle, notaire à Paris. Ces 4 dernières années, l’accès au crédit était facilité par les taux de crédit historiquement bas. En moins d’un an, ils ont remonté en flèche même s’ils restent parmi les plus bas d’Europe. «Ils peuvent soit bloquer les acheteurs soit les inciter à acheter vite avant que les taux grimpent plus haut», décrypte Me Delesalle.

Mais les conditions d’octroi sont de plus en plus strictes et le coût du crédit de plus en plus cher. Les notaires du Grand Paris ont calculé les sommes qu’un emprunteur doit rembourser à sa banque chaque mois pour acquérir une maison de 100 m² en Île-de-France ou un appartement de 65 m². Le constat est sans appel: dans le premier cas, la mensualité va flamber de 14% entre janvier 2022 et janvier 2023, passant de 1651 euros à 1876 euros, dans le cadre d’un emprunt de 100% du prix d’achat remboursé en 20 ans. C’est en Grande Couronne que l’envolée est la plus spectaculaire: +12% (entre décembre 2021 et octobre 2022) contre 10% en Petite Couronne.

3427 euros à rembourser par mois à Paris

Dans le cas d’un appartement de 65 m², la hausse est de 11% (2030 à 2250 euros par mois) en Île-de-France. À l’instar des maisons, c’est aussi en Grande Couronne que l’envolée de la mensualité est la plus forte: +13% contre 9% en Petite Couronne. Une fois n’est pas coutume, Paris est un peu plus épargnée avec une hausse deux fois moins élevée, + 7%, du fait de la légère érosion des prix de l’immobilier. Vous devrez tout de même rembourser pas moins de 3427 euros par mois pour vous offrir un 65 m². Soit trois fois plus qu’en Grande Couronne et deux fois plus qu’en Petite Couronne. «Même si d’autres paramètres sont susceptibles d’amortir ces évolutions (achat d’un logement plus petit, allongement de la durée d’emprunt, apport personnel plus important…), accéder à la propriété devient de plus en plus compliqué, dans un contexte où les perspectives sur les revenus ne sont pas favorables», soulignent les notaires du Grand Paris, dans leur dernière étude. »

Le Figaro









Il 3 dicembre San Giovanni ricorda Don Lorenzo Milani








Sarà presentato il libro di Sandra Passerotti “Le ragazze di Barbiana” in occasione delle celebrazioni per iu 100 anni dalla nascita.

“Arezzo, 24 novembre 2022 – Don Lorenzo Milani, nato a Firenze il 27 maggio 1923, è stato un presbitero, scrittore, docente ed educatore cattolico italiano. La sua figura è legata in maniera indissolubile all’esperienza didattica rivolta ai bambini poveri nella disagiata e isolata scuola di Barbiana, nella canonica della chiesa di Sant’Andrea, in Mugello. Qui, in questa minuscola e sperduta frazione di montagna nel comune di Vicchio, entrò in contatto con una realtà di povertà ed emarginazione molto lontana rispetto a quella in cui aveva vissuto gli anni della sua giovinezza. Iniziò qui, in alta Toscana, il primo tentativo di scuola a tempo pieno, espressamente rivolto a coloro che, per mancanza di mezzi, sarebbero stati quasi inevitabilmente destinati a rimanere vittime di una situazione di subordinazione sociale e culturale. Nel 2023 si celebreranno i 100 anni dalla nascita di questo straordinario sacerdote e il circolo Acli di San Giovanni ha organizzato un evento il prossimo 3 dicembre, alle 10,30, presso la sala conferenze di via Roma. Sarà presentato il libro di Sandra Passerotti “Le ragazze di Barbiana”. L’iniziativa è organizzata con l’intento di dare un contributo all’approfondimento culturale sulla scuola in corso nel Paese, sul suo ruolo e sulla funzione pedagogica, avvicinandosi la ricorrenza del centenario della nascita di Don Lorenzo Milani. L’evento vede il patrocinio del Comune di San Giovanni.”

La Nazione














René Descartes, la tentación geométrica







La matematización de la realidad arrancó con el francés y, bajo el empuje de la física newtoniana, ha gobernado el destino filosófico de Europa y podríamos decir que del mundo

“Las matemáticas son falsas. ¿Qué se quiere decir? Que falsean la vida, que la tasación numérica y cuantitativa del universo supone un reduccionismo intolerable. Ofrecen un sucedáneo de realidad, siniestro, donde no hay deseo ni voluntad, donde todo sucede impersonalmente. Al mismo tiempo, las matemáticas son la invención más prodigiosa de la imaginación humana. Hacen creer que el fondo de lo real es racional. Y esa fue la fe de Descartes, una convicción que, generalmente, aparece en la juventud. Lo real es racional. Lo real puede someterse al escrutinio matemático y éste lo reflejará fielmente. Esa fue la apuesta de un joven metido a militar, seguro de sí mismo, que advirtió en sueños los signos de su vocación filosófica. Un sueño de juventud que plasmó en el Discurso del método y que ha marcado la Edad Moderna. Hasta el punto de que la fe en la racionalidad del mundo (de origen onírico) todavía se enseña en las escuelas. La matematización de la realidad arrancó con el francés y, bajo el empuje de la física newtoniana, ha gobernado el destino filosófico de Europa y podríamos decir que del mundo.

Creo que fue Bertrand Russell quien dijo que a ningún viejo le interesan las matemáticas. Pues el matemático, como advirtió Demócrito, se arranca los ojos para pensar. Y la vida, cuando es veterana, lo que quiere es seguir viendo, seguir sintiendo. Se interesa, fundamentalmente, por el deseo y la percepción. Por indagar cómo la percepción va suscitado el deseo de nuevas percepciones. En ningún caso renunciará al color, como hace el matemático, pues el color es irracional. A la inteligencia madura los modelos matemáticos del universo le hacen sonreír, le parecen el juego inocente (y brillante) de una inteligencia que todavía no ha vivido lo suficiente. Pero ocurre que el sueño matemático, la tentación geométrica, como me gusta llamarla, ha dado unos réditos magníficos a nuestra civilización. Ha hecho posible la expansión colonial y dominar el mundo mediante el poder tecnológico. Nos ha llevado a la Luna, al bosón de Higgs, a la bomba de nuclear y al laboratorio global (a un experimento planetario propiciado por un engendro biotecnológico). Las matemáticas son muy útiles para la guerra, también para controlar el flujo de la información. Las matemáticas no sólo crean teoremas, crean opinión. La consecuencia final de todo ello es moral. Modelos matemáticos (algoritmos) nos dirán qué es bueno y qué es malo, quién es el tirano, cual es el tratamiento adecuado para enfermedades globales, cómo concebir, en definitiva, la realidad.

La noche del 10 de noviembre de 1619 es un momento tan decisivo para la historia de Europa como la batalla contra los turcos de Solimán el Magnífico a las puertas de Viena (1519) o el desembarco de Normandía (1945). Pero lo que ocurre aquella noche no es un episodio bélico sino imaginal. Un joven soldado, educado por los jesuitas, brillante y decidido, tiene una serie de sueños en un campamento militar. De esa experiencia sale un librito, más biográfico que científico, que servirá de fundamento a una ciencia que todavía no existe, la física moderna (creada por Newton medio siglo después), y a otra que, aunque antigua, se verá profundamente renovada: la matemática moderna.

En ese preciso instante nace, de la imaginación, la fe racionalista. Esa fe sustituye a otra fe, anquilosada, que ha dejado de inspirar, que se ha enredado en monsergas escolásticas y academicistas. Las mentes más brillantes de Europa se volcarán en ella. Spinoza, Leibniz (sólo parcialmente), Voltaire, Newton, Laplace, los philosophes, y ese impulso llegará hasta el positivismo del XIX, que dominará por completo la ciencia. Las matemáticas, siendo una fantasía, son una vía posible en nuestras relaciones con el universo. Un universo que en el mundo antiguo concebía mediante cualidades y que pasa a ser de cantidades. Esa es la vía que elige Europa, cansada del puritanismo, las bulas papales y el control jesuítico. Europa se adhiere con entusiasmo a la premisa de Galileo: la naturaleza habla el lenguaje de las matemáticas. Aprendiendo esa lengua, podremos dialogar con ella, o mejor, persuadirla, de que se avenga a nuestros deseos (todo empieza y termina en el deseo). El siguiente paso, claro está, es que, nosotros, al reflejarnos en la naturaleza, quedamos matematizados, es decir, pasamos a ser seres regidos por leyes numéricas y equivalencias cuantitativas. Siendo matemáticos, podemos dar el siguiente paso, considerarnos mecánicos. El ser humano como mecanismo, pariente cercano del androide. Esta es, de manera simplificada, la visión moderna de lo humano. Si no fuera por el temporal que se avecina, resultaría cómica.

¿Dónde han quedado la percepción y el deseo que, según Leibniz y ciertas filosofías de origen indio, son los constituyentes esenciales de lo real? La respuesta es sencilla. Se han mecanizado. La percepción y el deseo son también mecanismos. El mundo al revés. La causa es ahora el efecto. Mecanismos reparables, modificables, perfeccionables. De toda esa deriva; que es la nuestra y con la que habremos de negociar (no valen escapismos, no hay vuelta posible a la selva, ni regreso a Oriente); el primer representante es Descartes.”

El País