National Heat Vulnerability Index, Riffusion, TikTok, More: Saturday ResearchBuzz, December 24, 2022


Yale School of Public Health: National Heat Vulnerability Index Reveals Neighborhoods at High Vulnerability to Heat. “A team of researchers at the Yale School of Public Health has developed a metric to gauge heat vulnerability at the census-tract level and created a color-coded interactive map for public use.”

MusicRadar: Riffusion is a free web app that uses AI to create music from your text prompts. “Riffusion works by generating images from spectograms, which are then converted into audio clips. We’re told that it can generate infinite variations of a text prompt by varying the ‘seed’.” This isn’t as polished as an image generator, but it’s interesting. I found that the longer I let the audio run, the better it sounded.


Ars Technica: TikTok cops to running “covert surveillance campaign” on Western journalists. “Following an internal investigation, TikTok owner ByteDance today confirmed reports from this fall that claimed some of its employees used the popular app to track multiple journalists, including two in the US. The ByteDance employees’ goal? To identify anonymous sources who were leaking information to the media on the company’s ties to the Chinese government, according to The New York Times.”

9to5 Google: Google Calendar bug creating random events based on emails and newsletters from Gmail. “Over the past day or so, Google Calendar has been showing randomly created all-day events based on Gmail messages that don’t necessarily relate back to any specific event. There’s no clear pattern with this bug, though it does seem that emails with dates mentioned may be one trigger.”


Associated Press: Invisible military aircraft not captured on Google Maps. “A video said to show an invisible military aircraft at an Air Force base just outside Abilene, a city 150 miles (241 kilometers) west of Fort Worth, Texas, has spread widely on social media in recent days.”

Search Engine Land: How Google Autocomplete works. “You enter a word or a single letter, and Google will populate the search box with a list of ‘predictions’ before you’ve even finished typing. This Google feature is called Autocomplete. But what exactly is it? How does Google come up with those predictions? Read on to find out how Google Autocomplete works.”


Moscow Times: Yandex Registers New Companies to Bypass Sanctions – RTVI. “Russian tech giant Yandex has registered holding companies in Armenia and the U.S. in order to bypass international sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, Russian-language TV channel RTVI reported on Thursday.”

NBC News: California police say member of Elon Musk’s security team is a suspect following stalker claim. “The Dec. 13 incident in a Los Angeles-area highway has become a flashpoint for a debate about online speech and the dissemination of personal information, although authorities had previously said little about what happened. In a statement Tuesday, police in South Pasadena said that the incident involved a member of Musk’s security team, whose vehicle hit the car of a man he alleged was following him.”

Gizmodo: Dozens of Former Twitter Employees File Complaint Alleging the Mass Layoffs ‘Targeted Women’. “Twitter received complaints on Tuesday from 100 former employees who accused the company of gender discrimination and illegal termination. The lawsuit was first filed earlier this month and addresses CEO Elon Musk’s decision to lay off over half the company. The lawsuit claims women were primarily targeted for layoffs and accuses the company of failing to pay the promised severance.”


The Washington Post: They came to TikTok for fun. They got stuck with sexualized videos. “We spoke to five people who have struggled to get sexual content out of their feeds, and tested each of the apps ourselves as new users with no history on the sites. We found that sexual content was suggested by default to new users on four of the five apps, although the material rarely violated community guidelines.”

Mirage News: UNECE to Launch Global Database on Transport CO2 Emissions. “Since May this year, UNECE and other key stakeholders forming the Transport Data Commons Initiative have been working to create an open data platform to share the existing data on CO2 emissions in the transport sector. On 9 December 2022, UNECE was chosen by the initiative to host a prototype database to be developed by May 2023.”

Analytics India: ChatGPT is Great, but Competing with Google Takes More than That. “In a tweet, Margaret Mitchell, an AI researcher based out of Seattle, pointed out that ChatGPT taking over Google search would be the same as reinventing the wheel. According to her, if we see the search engines before the emergence of Pagerank, a web search query meant putting in a sequence of text as a query, and getting back websites with the most likely sequences of text following your query. This, according to her, is ‘similar to where we are with ChatGPT today. Except, the websites are erased; you get snippets of likely response text extracted from different websites’.” I don’t agree entirely with this opinion but I’m more in alignment with it than all the other Chicken Little Hot Takes I’ve been seeing. Good morning, Internet…

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