Archive for the 'Mysterious News' Category

The Case of Google’s Multilingual Translation System Suddenly Inventing Its Own Language…

Who knows, maybe the A.I. that eventually takes over humanity will turn out to be nicer than we are?



From FreeCodeCamp,


The mind-blowing AI announcement from Google that you probably missed.


“In the closing weeks of 2016, Google published an article that quietly sailed under most people’s radars. Which is a shame, because it may just be the most astonishing article about machine learning that I read last year.


Don’t feel bad if you missed it. Not only was the article competing with the pre-Christmas rush that most of us were navigating?—?it was also tucked away on Google’s Research Blog, beneath the geektastic headline Zero-Shot Translation with Google’s Multilingual Neural Machine Translation System.


This doesn’t exactly scream must read, does it? Especially when you’ve got projects to wind up, gifts to buy, and family feuds to be resolved?—?all while the advent calendar relentlessly counts down the days until Christmas like some kind of chocolate-filled Yuletide doomsday clock.


Luckily, I’m here to bring you up to speed. Here’s the deal.


Up until September of last year, Google Translate used phrase-based translation. It basically did the same thing you and I do when we look up key words and phrases in our Lonely Planet language guides. It’s effective enough, and blisteringly fast compared to awkwardly thumbing your way through a bunch of pages looking for the French equivalent of “please bring me all of your cheese and don’t stop until I fall over.” But it lacks nuance.


Phrase-based translation is a blunt instrument. It does the job well enough to get by. But mapping roughly equivalent words and phrases without an understanding of linguistic structures can only produce crude results.


This approach is also limited by the extent of an available vocabulary. Phrase-based translation has no capacity to make educated guesses at words it doesn’t recognize, and can’t learn from new input.


All that changed in September, when Google gave their translation tool a new engine: the Google Neural Machine Translation system (GNMT). This new engine comes fully loaded with all the hot 2016 buzzwords, like neural network and machine learning.


The short version is that Google Translate got smart….”


For the rest, click here.



Renovating a decaying Neoclassical French Chateau

This is our new fantasy lifestyle…


chateauren2 chateausnow


From The Vintage News,

Australian couple Bought a decaying Neoclassical French Chateau and started blogging the restoration process


“Renovating a decaying neoclassical French Chateau is the ultimate dream, right? – Just the mere visit in a once sumptuous, now eerie palace lived by French aristocrats, where every corner has its intriguing story, gives me goosebumps. So bringing back the glory to a crumbling, massive palace, makes the 94 room Chateau de Gudanes, Mount Everest of renovating. So, Australian couple Karina and Craig Waters in 2011 decided to “climb the summit” i.e to revive the 18th-century ruin as soon as they saw the abandoned beauty mansion in the Midi-Pyrénées online, that had been sitting on the market for four years.


Karina Waters, a former corporate and tax accountant lived with her husband Craig, a surgeon and their two children in Perth, Western Australia. In 2011, they’ve decided to buy a house in France, and they had almost given up the exhausting hunt, when the couple’s 16-year-old son, Ben, spotted the forgotten property on the internet.


The Australian couple immediately flew to Paris and drove 700km to view the enchanted mansion, and at the first glance they have found their calling: ” to bring this decaying beauty to life.”…


For the rest, click here. For the restoration blog, click here.




Frankenstein Birds: Bringing Back the Passenger Pigeon

We stumbled upon an article recently about the remains of a mammoth that is 15,000 years old, with evidence that Ice Age humans were involved in the kill. This puts the arrival of people in the Americas far earlier than was previously thought (you can read that piece here). The article reminded us that there are folks presently carrying out the work of de-extinction, and though mammoths are not (yet?) on the list for them, passenger pigeons are.


It’s a tricky subject, de-extinction. What if they decide to bring back a Neandertal? How will that out-of-place-and-time person be raised and nurtured? But these advances and ideas certainly do get the imagination stirring. Think of the possibilities.


Here’s some insight into who is doing this, and how — and a glimpse into one scientist’s love of the passenger pigeon…


From Nautilus,
The Case for Bringing Back the Passenger Pigeon
One geneticist’s quest to de-extinct what was once one of the world’s most abundant birds.

By David Biello


“North Dakota is not known for its pigeons. Or forests, for that matter. The state bird is the western meadowlark, a mellifluous yellow songbird often seen singing on fence posts. Such posts substitute for trees in much of North Dakota. The state is primarily covered in what was once short-grass prairie but is now mostly farms embedded in a human-made grassland, exceptions being the Badlands and a swath of boreal forest in the far north near Canada.


Yet it was near Williston, the heart of western North Dakota’s new boom-and-bust oil patch, that Ben Novak first fell in love with Ectopistes migratorius—the passenger pigeon, a bird that rarely graced this region, if ever.



Feathered Eclipse: There were once so many wild passenger pigeons that people were encouraged to hunt them—some said the flocks were so big they could block out the sun.Wikipedia


One day Novak, a precocious but solemn 13-year-old, found himself in the back of a Waldenbooks at the mall. It was there that he discovered the National Audubon Society’s Speaking for Nature: A Century of Conservation. Just 40 or so pages into that book is a picture of a museum display of stuffed birds, the male resplendent with a burnt umber chest and bluish-gray feathers on his head and back, the female more demure in mottled brown-and-gray. “At the beginning of the 19th century, there were perhaps three billion pigeons migrating north to nesting grounds in New England and the Great Lake States,” the book noted. “Early settlers commonly described flocks so immense that they blotted out the sun.”
By the end of the 19th century, the passenger pigeon, once perhaps the most abundant bird in the world, was extinct. Hunters enabled by the twin technologies of the telegraph and the train wiped out the passenger pigeon by traveling from site to site to supply markets hungry for meat in the burgeoning cities of eastern North America. On Sept. 1, 1914, the last passenger pigeon was found dead on the floor of her cage in the Cincinnati Zoo. The species was gone…”


For the rest, click here.


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