Thursday, July 25, 2024

The Obtain: autocorrect’s stunning origins, and how you can pre-bunk electoral misinformation


That is at this time’s version of The Obtain, our weekday e-newsletter that gives a each day dose of what’s occurring on the planet of know-how.

How the hunt to kind Chinese language on a QWERTY keyboard created autocomplete

—That is an excerpt from The Chinese language Laptop: A World Historical past of the Data Age by Thomas S. Mullaney, revealed on Might 28 by The MIT Press. It has been evenly edited.

When a younger Chinese language man sat down at his QWERTY keyboard in 2013 and rattled off an enigmatic string of letters and numbers, his forty-four keystrokes marked the primary steps in a course of often known as “enter” or shuru.

Shuru is the act of getting Chinese language characters to look on a pc monitor or different digital gadget utilizing a QWERTY keyboard or trackpad.

The younger man, Huang Zhenyu, was one among round 60 contestants within the 2013 Nationwide Chinese language Characters Typing Competitors. His keyboard didn’t allow him to enter these characters immediately, nevertheless, and so he entered the quasi-gibberish string of letters and numbers as a substitute: ymiw2klt4pwyy1wdy6…

However Zhenyu’s prizewinning efficiency wasn’t solely noteworthy for his spectacular typing pace—one of many quickest ever recorded. It was additionally premised on the identical sort of “extra steps” as the primary Chinese language pc in historical past that led to the invention of autocompletion. Learn the remainder of the excerpt right here.

Should you’re interested by tech in China, why not take a look at a few of our China reporter Zeyi Yang’s current reporting (and subscribe to his weekly e-newsletter China Report!)

+ GPT-4o’s Chinese language token-training knowledge is polluted by spam and porn web sites. The issue, which is probably going as a result of insufficient knowledge cleansing, may result in hallucinations, poor efficiency, and misuse. Learn the complete story.

+ Why Hong Kong is focusing on Western Large Tech firms in its ban of a well-liked protest tune.

+ Deepfakes of your useless family members are a booming Chinese language enterprise. Individuals are in search of assist from AI-generated avatars to course of their grief after a member of the family passes away. Learn the complete story.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the web to search out you at this time’s most enjoyable/essential/scary/fascinating tales about know-how.

1 Election officers need to pre-bunk dangerous on-line campaigns
It’s a bid to stop political hoaxes from ever getting off the bottom. (WP $)
+ Pretend information verification instruments are failing in India. (Remainder of World)
+ Three know-how traits shaping 2024’s elections. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)

2 OpenAI has began coaching the successor to GPT-4
Simply weeks after it revealed an up to date model, GPT-4o. (NYT $)
+ OpenAI’s new GPT-4o lets folks work together utilizing voice or video in the identical mannequin. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)

3 China is bolstering its nationwide semiconductor fund
To the tune of $48 billion. (WSJ $)
+ It’s the third spherical of the nation’s native chip funding program. (FT $)
+ What’s subsequent in chips. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)

4 Nuclear crops are extraordinarily costly to construct
The US must discover ways to reduce prices with out chopping corners. (The Atlantic $)
+ Easy methods to reopen a nuclear energy plant. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)

5 Laser programs may very well be the most effective line of protection in opposition to army drones
The Pentagon is investing in BlueHalo’s AI-powered laser know-how. (Insider $)
+ The US army can also be pumping cash into Palmer Luckey’s Anduril. (Wired $)
+ Contained in the messy ethics of constructing struggle with machines. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)

6 Klarna’s advertising and marketing campaigns are the product of generative AI
The fintech agency claims the know-how will reserve it $10 million a yr. (Reuters)

7 The US has an EV charging drawback
Would-be automobile patrons are nonetheless nervous about investing in EVs. (Wired $)
+ Micro-EVs may supply one resolution. (Ars Technica)
+ Toyota has unveiled new engines suitable with different fuels. (Reuters)

8 Good luck betting on something that’s not sports activities within the US
The end result of a significant election, for instance. (Vox)
+ How cell cash supercharged Kenya’s sports activities betting dependancy. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)

9 Perfectionist mother and father are Facetuning their kids
It goes with out saying: don’t do that. (NY Magazine $)

10 Why a film model of The Sims by no means acquired off the bottom
The beloved online game would make for a significantly bizarre cinema spectacle. (The Guardian)

Quote of the day

“As soon as materialism begins spreading, it could actually have a nasty affect on youngsters.”

—Chinese language state media Beijing Information explains why China has began cracking down on luxurious influencers identified for his or her ostentatious shows of wealth, the Monetary Occasions reviews.

The massive story

Recapturing early web whimsy with HTML

December 2023

Web sites weren’t at all times slick digital experiences. 

There was a time when browsing the online concerned opening tabs that performed music in opposition to your will and sifting via partitions of textual content on a coloured background. Within the 2000s, earlier than Squarespace and social media, web sites have been manifestations of individuality—constructed from scratch utilizing HTML, by customers who had some information of code. 

Scattered throughout the online are communities of programmers working to revive this seemingly outdated method. And the motion is something however a superficial enchantment to retro aesthetics—it’s about celebrating the human contact in digital experiences. Learn the complete story

—Tiffany Ng

We will nonetheless have good issues

A spot for consolation, enjoyable and distraction to brighten up your day. (Acquired any concepts? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ Get pleasure from this potted historical past of why we are saying okay, and the place it got here from.
+ There’s something very humorous about Elton John calling The Lion King’s Timon and Pumbaa “the rat and the pig.”
+ The very best of British press images is at all times value a peruse.
+ I had no concept that Sisqo’s Thong Tune used an Eleanor Rigby pattern.



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