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University of Michigan School of Information


Fun Size for 5/3/24: The big, hungry genie

The big, hungry genie 

While we're all having fun using AI for photo editing, ChatGPT and self-driving cars, it would behoove us to take a moment to realize just how much energy this genie uses and is predicted to need. Forbes, for example, notes that each data center requires the power of a small city, and that AI currently accounts for 1.5% of the world’s electricity use. Vox says that AI’s energy needs are expected to double in a few years. The Motley Fool, meanwhile, has tips on how to cash in on AI’s appetite for energy.

Two steps forward, one step back 

Women Who Code started as a community group of women in tech in San Francisco back in 2011. City by city, the organization grew to membership in over 145 countries. Along the way, it gave out millions in scholarships, held conferences and supported and coached women into leadership roles in the tech field. So its announcement in April that it was shutting down due to lack of funding came as a shock. Their farewell message expresses sadness and a hope that their work will carry on. Amen.

LOC taps 25 hits for posterity

The Library of Congress has selected this year’s 25 inductees into the National Recording Registry. Among the classics chosen from 2,899 nominations are songs by Patti Paige, Perry Como and Gene Autry and albums by The Cars, Blondie and Lily Tomlin. Even “Mr. Veedle” would approve the last one. Snort.

You’ll find more winning albums on the LOC’s Flickr site. It was created to “share photo and video coverage of library events and of beautiful Library places.” But the real attraction is an endearingly oddball collection of albums, from barber shops to 19th century picnics to people reading. (It is a library, after all.) Great resource for historic photos and most seem to have no publication restrictions.

Find My Device comes to Android 

From MacRumors comes word of a new feature for Android phones that sounds a lot like Apple’s Find My network. Google announced that starting in May, its Find My Device will use Bluetooth to help Android owners locate stolen or missing devices. The service will include item trackers similar to Apple’s AirTags but promises to avoid Apple’s early mistakes that allowed trackers to be used for stalking, car thefts and other nefarious purposes.

Dextrous digits digitized 

Where else but in Britain would you find a Royal School of Needlework, located in a palace no less? From its home in Hampton Court Palace, the RSN has just launched a new website showcasing the first 100 pieces of its 10K collection. Each entry is beautifully and meticulously annotated, as one would expect from needleworkers.

At the press of a button 

Wearable technology has been around for a while, but some researchers at North Carolina State are taking it one step farther. They’re using machine learning to create touch-based sensors embroidered into fabric. The sensor powers itself from the friction generated by its multiple layers and has been used to play video games and control electronic devices.

A teenager named Alex 

Over 25 years, the U.S. National Longitudinal Survey tracked thousands of people starting in their teenage years to determine how social, environmental and economic factors impacted the course of their lives. The Pudding has created a data visualization that brings this study to life, starting with a high-risk teenager named Alex. One cool feature: click on any individual, in any year, to see their backstory and where they are in their lives – for good or ill.

Your browser history 

Chrome is the most preferred browser among current users, by a mile. Oberlo, an eCommerce platform, has a nice graph showing the most popular web browsers as of February 2024, as well as the most popular around the world. For extra fun, Visual Capitalist has an animated visualization of the most popular browsers since 1994. Who remembers when Mosaic, Netscape, or IE ruled the land?

I’m not a robot – or am I? 

Those CAPTCHA puzzles designed to separate humans from robots are getting harder as AI gets smarter, according to MIT Technology Review. No more picking all the images with motorcycles or bridges. Instead, you could be asked to rotate a 3-D object or move a jigsaw piece into place. Let’s hope they don’t get too hard. As British comic Jack Whitehall quipped about his inability to recognize stop lights in a CAPTCHA test, “I’m either a robot or a cyclist.”

Net neutrality rules restored 

In late April, the FCC voted along party lines to restore the net neutrality rules the commission had instituted in 2015 and then repealed in 2017. Net neutrality aims to prevent broadband providers like Verizon and Comcast from favoring some sites and apps over others. Since 2017, many states have passed their own versions of net neutrality, so consumers may not see a big difference, AP notes. Still, it’s a nice thought.