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Hullabaloo


Thursday, March 31, 2016

 

It's good news week

by Tom Sullivan

Great. It's 5 a.m. and the headlines this morning prompted a novelty song from the mid-1960s to start playing in my head.

Melting of Ice Sheet Could Flood Coastal Cities by 2100

Antarctic ice loss could double expected sea level rise by 2100, study says

Sea levels set to 'rise far more rapidly than expected'

From the journal Nature:
Choices that the world makes this century could determine the fate of the massive Antarctic ice sheet. A study published online this week in Nature finds that continued growth in greenhouse-gas emissions over the next several decades could trigger an unstoppable collapse of Antarctica’s ice — raising sea levels by more than a metre by 2100 and more than 15 metres by 2500.

“That is literally remapping how the planet looks from space,” says study co-author Rob DeConto, a geoscientist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The good news, he says, is that it projects little or no sea-level rise from Antarctic melt if greenhouse-gas emissions are reduced quickly enough to limit the average global temperature rise to about 2 °C.
See? Good news.

From the New York Times:
New York City is nearly 400 years old; in the worst-case scenario conjured by the research, its chances of surviving another 400 years in anything like its present form would appear to be remote. Miami, New Orleans, London, Venice, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney, Australia, are all just as vulnerable as New York, or more so.
Answer? Have Donald Trump build a wall around Manhattan. A big, beautiful wall.

More good news. The study itself is here.

Of course, a technological breakthrough might stop the melting. Or maybe A.I. could solve it for us. Remember Microsoft's failed experiment last week with its Twitter chatbot named Tay? Microsoft returned Tay to the lab for regrooving after she went a bit wonky:
Tay launched on 23 March, but less than 24 hours later she was switched off by Microsoft after tweeting publicly about her support for Adolf Hitler, her hatred of Jews, calling feminism "a cancer" and suggesting genocide against Mexicans. Tay also blamed George Bush for the 9/11 terrorist attacks and described President Barack Obama as a "monkey".
Well, Microsoft brought Tay back online Wednesday (briefly) to learn more from human Twitter users:
The learning experiment, which got a crash-course in racism, Holocaust denial and sexism courtesy of Twitter users, was switched back on overnight and appeared to be operating in a more sensible fashion. Microsoft had previously gone through the bot’s tweets and removed the most offensive and vowed only to bring the experiment back online if the company’s engineers could “better anticipate malicious intent that conflicts with our principles and values”.

However, at one point Tay tweeted about taking drugs, in front of the police, no less.

Tay then began repeating the same tweet over and over until engineers made her account private, effectively taking her offline again. Microsoft told the IBTimesUK, "Tay remains offline while we make adjustments. As part of testing, she was inadvertently activated on twitter for a brief period of time." Maybe Tay will learn enough from contact with humans to keep New York from drowning from the actions of humans.