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Note from Paul

Advanced AI systems like ChatGPT can “converse” with us in a way that’s strikingly human. So much so, some of us forget we’re dealing with a program that lacks the emotions or interests we take for granted. We shouldn’t feel too embarrassed, though, because we’re primed to act this way by evolution. The events of our ancient past programmed us to interpret any object that might be human as one of us.

It’s the same effect that causes us to see faces in clouds or in patterns in toast burn marks. It was once helpful to avoid predators or help each other out. In a modern context, it means we attribute human features to computer programs that lack them. This might seem harmless, but realising what AI can and can’t do can help us understand the real risks and benefits it poses, as well as stop us falling victim to misinformation.

Further from home, scientists may finally know when Saturn’s magnificent ring system was formed. Research suggests the rings are relatively young: between 400,000 and 100,000 years old. This means that, for 90% of its history, Saturn lacked these awe-inspiring cosmic ornaments.

And Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has concluded a series of visits to London, Paris, Rome and Berlin. The European tour, designed to shore up alliances, seems to have had the desired effect. Zelensky was quickly able to secure much-needed ammunition, vehicles and air defence systems to aid Ukraine’s war effort. Here’s what that could mean.

Paul Rincon

Commissioning Editor, Science, Technology and Business


AI: evolution is making us treat it like a human, and we need to kick the habit

Neil Saunders, University of Greenwich

When you stop treating AI as another human, you’ll get on with it better.

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