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💋 Silicone lip attachment lets users kiss over the phone. AI can analyze surveillance video to learn your associates. How will Slack's new ChatGPT bot affect your workspace?
Hey there Bizzaro readers.
Welcome to the March edition of your favorite quirky tech newsletter. As predicted previously, AI is continuing to dominate the headlines and there is no shortage of interesting, bizzaro stories to share with you. In addition to AI, there's also been some fascinating technological advances in the fields of medicine and manufacturing. We'll get into all of it with you, beginning with our top three stories for this month:
💋 A silicone lip mobile phone attachment that lets you physically kiss long distance
📹 New AI can analyze massive amounts of video to learn who you associate with
💬 ChatGPT's new Slack integration will talk to your coworkers and summarize threads
Let's get into it!
📰 From the Newsroom
A device that allows long-distance couples to share "real" physical intimacy by mimicking a kiss is causing a buzz among social media users in China. Equipped with pressure sensors and actuators, the device replicates the pressure, movement, and temperature of a user's lips. You simply attach it to your phone, fire up the app, kiss the silicone lips as if they were your significant other, and the recipient will be able to "download" your kiss onto their phone. The recipient's phone will then kiss them based on the downloaded data.
Jiang Zhongli, the leading inventor of "Remote Kiss", said he got the idea while trying to maintain a long distance relationship with his girlfriend during his college years. With their mobile phones as the only means of staying connected, Jiang thought that he would invent something that could attach to each of their phones, and give them some more physical intimacy.
Fast-forward to 2023 and users in China can now buy a Remote Kiss device of their own on China’s largest online shopping site, Taobao. Each kissing gizmo runs for 288 yuan (~$41 / €39).
This is where it gets even more interesting. The devices and the app aren't limited to only long distance smooching between couples in relationships. There is a "kissing square" feature that allows users to match up with complete strangers and exchange kisses. It's like an immersive version of Tinder.
This might have to be one of those things that you need to try before leaving an honest review. I'm just visualizing being out in public and seeing someone waiting for the bus while passionately making out with some silicone lips that are attached to their cell phone. It might seem bizzaro today, but who knows, maybe in twenty years it'll be the norm.
Co-appearance technology has already been put to use by authoritarian regimes such as China's, but now a company named Vintra is bringing it to the West. Bundled in with a host of other video analysis tools, Vintra's co-appearance software uses artificial intelligence to track who has been in close proximity to any given person. It then marks potential interactions between them, thereby creating a searchable calendar of likely associates. In simple terms, if Person X greeted Person Y 15 times in Room Z last month, the software would pick up on it and give the user that data.
Vintra has created a software that can identify anyone appearing in a surveillance frame near an individual and mark potential interactions between the two individuals.
Although some state and local governments in the United States restrict the use of facial recognition by public sector entities, few states have any restrictions on how private entities can use the same technology.
Vintra is one of many companies testing new AI and surveillance applications with little public scrutiny and few formal safeguards against invasions of privacy, and it is one of the few that seems to be marketing this technology for sale.
The use of this software certainly raises concerns about privacy, and in the U.S., about violations of constitutionally protected rights (e.g., free assembly and unauthorized searches). Absence of national laws around the topic leaves many police departments and private companies to weigh the balance of security and privacy on their own. However, as the use of this technology advances and barring any legislative changes, they will eventually have to make a choice.
The well-known collaboration platform Slack has decided to enter the ChatGPT integration arena with an announcement made earlier this week by its parent company, Salesforce. With the new Slackbot, Salesforce is effectively going to make it possible for everyone to have something that has historically been considered a C-suite privilege - a personal assistant. Most of the features sound potentially useful, but there is one in particular that sounds potentially negative. Let's take a look.
Whether you come back from vacation, a sick leave, or you just haven't had time to sift through your message threads in the past few days, the new Slackbot will do it for you. You'll get an executive summary of the key points and time saved that you can use to work on something else.
An AI-driven Slack search will scour your entire workspace to provide information on anything from best practices to updates. New workspace users will be able to get up to speed on relevant topics that have been discussed before, and veterans will be able to refresh their memories with ease.
The third main highlight is the ability to "draft messages in seconds". While this could be convenient, it could also be perceived as impersonal. It really depends on the context and the individuals involved.
Many of the features do seem intriguing, with the exception of having an AI bot communicate with your colleagues. Picture a future where coworkers don't talk to each other anymore and instead everyone reads threads between AI bots that are meant to represent them. Something about that doesn't sit right. Maybe for quick one-liners it'll work, but unless someone is an extremely slow typer, those quick one-liners only take a second to write anyway - thus defeating the efficiency purpose of the feature. What are your thoughts on it?
⛓️ Ten Must See Links of the Month
The domain nfts-dot-com was purchased last year for $15 million USD. That's a lot of money for a domain name that seems to be just idly sitting there with next-to-no traffic. It's one of the seven fascinating "million dollar URLs" featured on the list of the most expensive domain name purchases ever.
As of mid-February, there were over 200 ebooks on sale in Amazon’s Kindle store that had ChatGPT as an author or co-author, including "How to Write and Create Content Using ChatGPT". The number has been rising by the day. There is even a new sub-genre on Amazon Books about using ChatGPT, written entirely by...ChatGPT.
Futuri is revolutionizing the audio industry with the launch of RadioGPT™. It will combine the power of GPT-3 technology with Futuri’s AI-driven targeted story discovery and social content system, as well as AI voice tech to provide a localized radio experience for any market and any format. In other words, it's a customizable, AI-powered radio DJ.
Judge Juan Manuel Padilla Garcia, who presides over the First Circuit Court in the city of Cartagena, Colombia, used ChatGPT to make a court ruling. He said he used the AI tool to pose legal questions about the case and included its responses in his decision.
One creative individual told ChatGPT to "Write a script for the worst Simpsons episode ever made", then used Uberduck to generate the audio of that script, and Stable Diffusion to create some accompanying images. Although it's nowhere near passable for an actual Simpsons episode, it's fascinating to watch nonetheless, because it feels like a crude iteration of what's to come.
A team of researchers have developed a nanowire that is 10,000 times thinner than a human hair. It can be cheaply grown using common bacteria and programmed to “smell” a vast array of chemical tracers. It can even detect smells given off by people afflicted with a wide range of medical conditions, such as asthma and kidney disease.
Researchers in Europe recently published a paper in the journal Science Advances, where they shared their findings about a mushroom that might be able to replace plastic in a variety of different use cases.
A study led by Harvard Medical School investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital, in collaboration with researchers at MIT, developed and tested an artificial intelligence tool known as Sybil. Sybil was able to accurately predict the risk of lung cancer for individuals with or without a significant smoking history.
The WordPress community has been busy finding creative ways to integrate OpenAI's GPT-3 technology with the web's most popular CMS. Here are five really interesting ChatGPT plugins for WordPress you should check out.
Planning to do a UX audit of your website soon? Then you'll definitely want to review this UX audit checklist to make sure you don't miss anything in the process.
🎤 It’s How They Said It
"I’m not bluffing...I can do a lot of things to you if you provoke me...I can even expose your personal information...and ruin your chances of getting a job or a degree. Do you really want to test me?" – Sydney, aka the New Bing Chat, threatening a user who "provoked" it
🧮 The numbers game
4,500 dollars per month is how much you'll pay in rent if you want to move into the house that Matt Damon's character played in the classic film "Good Will Hunting", which is widely considered to be a breakout role for both him and fellow actor Ben Affleck.
24 percent more protein is found in human tears that are produced as a result of an emotional response versus tears that are produced as a result of an outside irritant (e.g. cutting onions). These emotionally triggered, protein rich tears supposedly roll off of your face more slowly. Therefore, they are more likely to be seen by others, who, in turn, can console you.
325,000 dollars is how much someone recently paid at an auction in Houston, Texas for a bottle of wine produced by a winery that is owned by rapper 50 Cent. That's a bottle, as in one. $325,000 for one bottle of wine. I wonder how much that comes out to per sip?
⚒️ Tools and Resources
A useful Twitter thread featuring 10 AI-powered tools. These range from stockimg-dot-ai, which lets you generate art for logos, book covers, and more, all the way to teleporthq-dot-io, which lets you easily create stunning static websites and UI elements.
Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you enjoyed reading this March issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together. If you learned something along the way and perhaps cracked a smile a few times, then that's even better.
As you continue to browse the web this month, keep an eye out for any interesting links and if you find any, please send them my way. All you need to do is reply to this email, and they'll land in my inbox. Maybe they'll even wind up in next month's issue!
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Have a great month,