‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ rapper Coolio dies at age 59

‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ rapper Coolio dies at age 59
(AP)
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Updated 29 September 2022

‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ rapper Coolio dies at age 59

‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ rapper Coolio dies at age 59

LOS ANGELES: Coolio, the rapper who was among hip-hop’s biggest names of the 1990s with hits including “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” died Wednesday at age 59, his manager said.
Coolio, whose legal name was Artis Leon Ivey Jr., died at the Los Angeles home of a friend, longtime manager Jarez Posey told The Associated Press. The cause was not immediately clear.
Coolio won a Grammy for best solo rap performance for “Gangsta’s Paradise,” the 1995 hit from the soundtrack of the Michelle Pfeiffer film “Dangerous Minds” that sampled Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise.”
He was nominated for five other Grammys during a career that began in the late-1980s.
Born in Monessen, Pennsylvania south of Pittsburgh, Coolio moved to Compton, California, where he went to community college. He worked as a volunteer firefighter and in airport security before devoting himself full-time to the hip-hop scene.
His career took off with the 1994 release of his debut album on Tommy Boy Records, “It Takes a Thief.” It’s opening track, “Fantastic Voyage,” would reach No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
A year later, “Gangsta’s Paradise” would become a No. 1 single, with its dark opening lyrics:
“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I take a look at my life and realize there’s not much left, ‘cause I’ve been blastin’ and laughin’ so long, that even my mama thinks that my mind is gone.”


As chatbot sophistication grows, AI debate intensifies

Twitter (@OpenAI)
Twitter (@OpenAI)
Updated 05 December 2022

As chatbot sophistication grows, AI debate intensifies

Twitter (@OpenAI)
  • OpenAI, cofounded in 2015 in San Francisco by billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk, who left the business in 2018, received $1 billion from Microsoft in 2019

SAN FRANCISCO: California start-up OpenAI has released a chatbot capable of answering a variety of questions, but its impressive performance has reopened the debate on the risks linked to artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
The conversations with ChatGPT, posted on Twitter by fascinated users, show a kind of omniscient machine, capable of explaining scientific concepts and writing scenes for a play, university dissertations or even functional lines of computer code.
“Its answer to the question ‘what to do if someone has a heart attack’ was incredibly clear and relevant,” Claude de Loupy, head of Syllabs, a French company specialized in automatic text generation, told AFP.
“When you start asking very specific questions, ChatGPT’s response can be off the mark,” but its overall performance remains “really impressive,” with a “high linguistic level,” he said.
OpenAI, cofounded in 2015 in San Francisco by billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk, who left the business in 2018, received $1 billion from Microsoft in 2019.
The start-up is best known for its automated creation software: GPT-3 for text generation and DALL- E for image generation.
ChatGPT is able to ask its interlocutor for details, and has fewer strange responses than GPT-3, which, in spite of its prowess, sometimes spits out absurd results, said De Loupy.

“A few years ago chatbots had the vocabulary of a dictionary and the memory of a goldfish,” said Sean McGregor, a researcher who runs a database of AI-related incidents.
“Chatbots are getting much better at the ‘history problem’ where they act in a manner consistent with the history of queries and responses. The chatbots have graduated from goldfish status.”
Like other programs relying on deep learning, mimicking neural activity, ChatGPT has one major weakness: “it does not have access to meaning,” says De Loupy.
The software cannot justify its choices, such as explain why its picked the words that make up its responses.
AI technologies able to communicate are, nevertheless, increasingly able to give an impression of thought.
Researchers at Facebook-parent Meta recently developed a computer program dubbed Cicero, after the Roman statesman.
The software has proven proficient at the board game Diplomacy, which requires negotiation skills.
“If it doesn’t talk like a real person — showing empathy, building relationships, and speaking knowledgeably about the game — it won’t find other players willing to work with it,” Meta said in research findings.
In October, Character.ai, a start-up founded by former Google engineers, put an experimental chatbot online that can adopt any personality.
Users create characters based on a brief description and can then “chat” with a fake Sherlock Holmes, Socrates or Donald Trump.

This level of sophistication both fascinates and worries some observers, who voice concern these technologies could be misused to trick people, by spreading false information or by creating increasingly credible scams.
What does ChatGPT think of these hazards?
“There are potential dangers in building highly sophisticated chatbots, particularly if they are designed to be indistinguishable from humans in their language and behavior,” the chatbot told AFP.
Some businesses are putting safeguards in place to avoid abuse of their technologies.
On its welcome page, OpenAI lays out disclaimers, saying the chatbot “may occasionally generate incorrect information” or “produce harmful instructions or biased content.”
And ChatGPT refuses to take sides.
“OpenAI made it incredibly difficult to get the model to express opinions on things,” McGregor said.
Once, McGregor asked the chatbot to write a poem about an ethical issue.
“I am just a machine, A tool for you to use, I do not have the power to choose, or to refuse. I cannot weigh the options, I cannot judge what’s right, I cannot make a decision On this fateful night,” it replied.
On Saturday, OpenAI cofounder and CEO Sam Altman took to Twitter, musing on the debates surrounding AI.
“Interesting watching people start to debate whether powerful AI systems should behave in the way users want or their creators intend,” he wrote.
“The question of whose values we align these systems to will be one of the most important debates society ever has.”

 


World’s oldest recorded tortoise Jonathan prepares for 190th birthday party

World’s oldest recorded tortoise Jonathan prepares for 190th birthday party
Updated 03 December 2022

World’s oldest recorded tortoise Jonathan prepares for 190th birthday party

World’s oldest recorded tortoise Jonathan prepares for 190th birthday party
  • Despite his advanced years, he is also partial to a female tortoise called Emma, who is merely in her 50s

LONDON: He was born not long after Napoleon died, and is now officially the planet’s oldest known living land animal.
Jonathan the Seychelles Giant Tortoise is celebrating his 190th birthday — more or less — on St. Helena in the remote South Atlantic, where the defeated French emperor died in exile in 1821.
Jonathan, it is believed based on shell measurements, was hatched around 1832, and he was brought to the UK overseas territory from the Seychelles 50 years later.

In this file photo taken on October 20, 2017, Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise, believed to be the oldest reptile living on earth, crawls through the lawn of the Plantation House, the United Kingdom Governor official residence in Saint Helena, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. (AFP)

He lives out a comfortable retirement in Plantation House, the official residence of the St. Helena governor, where his birthday is being marked with events all weekend including the issuance of a special stamp.
The celebration climaxes Sunday with a “birthday cake” made out of Jonathan’s favorite foods.
He is particularly partial to carrots, lettuce, cucumber, apples and pears, according to his handlers interviewed by AFP in 2017.
Despite his advanced years, he is also partial to a female tortoise called Emma, who is merely in her 50s.
“He still enjoys the ladies and I have heard him quite regularly in the paddock with Emma and he grunts,” then-governor Lisa Phillips said at the time.
“I have to keep an eye on him when he is doing that — it was not in the job description when I became governor.”
At the start of this year, Jonathan was given the Guinness World Records title as the world’s oldest living land animal, and this month was also named as the oldest tortoise ever.
“When you think, if he was hatched in 1832 — the Georgian era — my goodness, the changes in the world,” said Joe Hollins, a retired veterinarian who is Jonathan’s main carer today.
“The world wars, the rise and fall of the British Empire, the many governors, kings and queens that have passed, it’s quite extraordinary,” he said.
“And he’s just been here, enjoying himself.”
While they hope for many more years, St. Helena authorities have already made plans for the venerable chelonian’s eventual demise: his shell will be preserved for posterity.

 


Mexican football fan dons Qatari attire, pranks TV reporter

Updated 02 December 2022

Mexican football fan dons Qatari attire, pranks TV reporter

Mexican football fan dons Qatari attire, pranks TV reporter
  • The football fan interrupted a live broadcast at the FIFA Wold Cup to pull his prank

LONDON: A Mexican football fan was caught on camera pranking a TV correspondent by pretending to be a Qatar security staff member at the FIFA World Cup.

The footage showed the fan, clad in a Qatari thobe and ghutra, interrupting the live broadcast of the Chilean TV channel Canal 13, claiming that he was a security officer and that filming in the location required a permit.

This prompted the reporter to argue that he was authorized to work in the area, with the football fan indulging in his performance until finally saying “Viva Mexico,” revealing — to the journalist’s relief — that he was pulling a prank.


Google marks 51st UAE National Day with Doodle

Google marks 51st UAE National Day with Doodle
Updated 02 December 2022

Google marks 51st UAE National Day with Doodle

Google marks 51st UAE National Day with Doodle
  • UAE National Day is celebrated on December 2 each year

DUBAI: Red, green and black fireworks and an animated four-colored flag are featured in Google’s latest Doodle to celebrate the UAE’s 51st founding anniversary.

“Today’s Doodle celebrates United Arab Emirates National Day. On this day in 1971, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Al-Ain, Sharjah and Umm Al-Quwain united to form one country. Ras Al Khaimah, the seventh emirate, joined the following year to complete what is now known as the United Arab Emirates,” Google said.

UAE National Day is celebrated on December 2 each year.

“Celebrations kick off with an exhilarating show at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Thousands of people gather to watch orchestras, musicians, and aerobatic displays. After national leaders give speeches to honor the country’s founding fathers, fireworks splash across the Abu Dhabi skyline as festivities carry into the night,” Google explained.

The UAE’s national flag was officially adopted in 1971, featuring the Pan-Arab colors – a vertical red line with horizontal green, white and black stripes. It was designed by then 19-year-old Abdullah Mohammed Al-Maainah, who beat more than 1,030 entries submitted as part of a nationwide contest for the UAE flag design.


German pundit mocks Qatari traditional dress, calling the thobe a ‘bathrobe’

German pundit mocks Qatari traditional dress, calling the thobe a ‘bathrobe’
Updated 30 November 2022

German pundit mocks Qatari traditional dress, calling the thobe a ‘bathrobe’

German pundit mocks Qatari traditional dress, calling the thobe a ‘bathrobe’
  • Wagner was referring to the thobe, a garment worn in many parts of the world, including the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East and North Africa

LONDON: German pundit Sandro Wagner mocked the Qatari national dress, calling the thobes “bathrobes” on Sunday while commentating on the World Cup match between Spain and Germany, a remark Twitter users found to be “racist.”

Wagner apologized on Monday, describing his disparaging remark as “ill-considered” in a tweet shared by ZDF on Monday, which came after the German TV channel faced backlash from social media users.

“It was an ill-considered saying with an inappropriate remark that I would be better off not saying. If anyone felt offended — sorry, that was zero point, zero my intention,” the former Germany striker said in the tweet.

Wagner, 35, said in the 79th minute of the Monday evening game: “I thought before that the whole corner (of the stadium) was full of German fans. Then I realized it was the Qatari bathrobes.”

In his comment, Wagner was referring to the thobe, a garment worn in many parts of the world, including the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East and North Africa.

ZDF commented on Wagner’s demeanor, saying his remark “occurred during an emotional phase of the game” and confirming that it was unacceptable: “He’s not permitted (to say that). We’ll talk about it.”

The German broadcasting company said Wagner will face no further consequences, confirming he will be commentating Wednesday’s match between Poland and Argentina.

People expressed frustration over Wagner’s “racist” remark. One Twitter user said, “This World Cup has put European racism under a spotlight where it can’t hide,” while another commented that “the only reason Sandro Wagner still has a job is because ZDF is just as racist as Wagner.”