Skip to main content

University of Michigan School of Information


Fun Size for 4/11/23: Google Glass, dead at last

Grunt work

European researchers are using AI to improve the lives of pigs by analyzing their grunts. Nursing piglets make happy oinks, while negative situations like “castration and slaughter” produce squeals of distress. (No kidding.) Researchers hope understanding the animals’ feelings will improve their mental health and lead to better animal welfare, says ZME Science.

Don’t cry for me, rose verbena 

In light of the above, vegetarians might feel justified not eating animals, but wait! reports on a new study that demonstrates plants “cry” when in stressful situations like being parched or cut. Israeli scientists using ultra-sensitive microphones captured the distress calls of tobacco and tomato plants; this story includes the enhanced audio of their tiny cries.

Not a fan yet 

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales doesn’t mince words when describing ChatGPT’s current capabilities. “Some call it hallucinating – I call it lying,” he told the Evening Standard. Still, he’s not discounting the possibility that AI could be writing, or at least expanding, Wikipedia entries in the not-too-distant future. “Using AI to triple our entries wouldn’t increase our costs by more than £1000 a year,” he claims.

Make a clean sweep 

If your spring cleaning involves decluttering, you might include disposing of an old desktop or laptop. Before donating or hauling it to a recycle station, be sure to wipe that hard drive of your old files. Lifewire lists 35 free data destruction software programs that will clean and sanitize your computer – with the pros and cons of each.

New views of an Old Master 

From When the current Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum sold out so quickly, the Amsterdam museum looked for more ways to share the collection with left-out art lovers. While it’s no substitute for seeing the works in person, a free interactive online version of the exhibition, “Closer to Johannes Vermeer,” offers some consolation–without the crowds.

The parting Glass 

You may have thought Google Glass was long gone, but it never really left, until now. While Google discontinued the original Glass in 2015, it later produced an updated version for industries like construction and medicine. Sales stopped in March on the current version, released in 2019, and support will end in September, reports ArsTechnica.

Our national pastime 

Across America, fans are celebrating opening days and the start of baseball season and two American institutions are joining in the fun. The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is touting dozens of new additions to its ongoing exhibit of “Baseball: America's Home Run,” while the Library of Congress blog has announced a new digital collection“Early Baseball Publications.” Play ball!

Consumer-friendly cancellations 

Canceling subscriptions might become less of a pain if a proposal by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) goes into effect, according to ArsTechnicaThe “click-to-cancel” rule would require sellers to allow customers to cancel a subscription payment plan in the same way they joined. So, if you joined online, you should be able to cancel online. The FTC is seeking public comment on their proposal. Hard to imagine anyone would be against this, but that’s not the case.

Paid to play 

Some guys have all the fun. California assistant professor of computer science Eric Kaltman just scored a $146K NEH grant to create a historical digital archive of old computer games, similar to library archive systems, records GovTech. His toolkit allows researchers to access a particular point in a video game, rather than just seeing an image. “Or, better yet they can just play the games themselves,” Kaltman says. All in the name of science, of course.

Google leans in to leaner times 

In January, Google announced it was eliminating 12,000 jobs in an effort to scale back expenses. For those who survive the latest cut, work life at Google may be less of a picnic, according to an internal memo leaked last week. Among the economies, cafès and microkitchens will be closed on some days, equipment upgrades will be less often, and fitness class schedules will be trimmed. Business Insider shares the full leaked memo.