Month: January 2019

Did 4 A.I. Robots Kill 29 Scientists At Japanese Weapons Research Lab?

Did four AI robots kill 29 scientists at a Japanese weapons research lab? A tweet with that headline and a linked video briefly lit up social media for one week in December 2018. The mainstream media didn’t even bother to cover it, suggesting a possible government cover-up. Like most people who saw the story, I thought it was too sensational to be true. When I saw the thumbnail for the linked video, I knew it was fake news.

Another indication that the story was fake news was both the headline and the unedited video were re-posted multiple times on YouTube. Some people are gullible enough to believe a lie is true if the lie is endlessly repeated on social media. A month later I can only find the commentary videos in the search results, as all the re-posted videos were long gone. When I followed an external link from an article to a re-posted video on YouTube, a message announced that the video and the account was not available after receiving numerous copyright strikes.

YouTube announced this week that they will recommend fewer conspiracy videos like “a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, claiming the earth is flat, or making blatantly false claims about historic events like 9/11.” I think this is working because none of the commentary videos that I watched while researching this topic had resulted in any recommendations to see more commentary videos.

A variation of the headline had the weapons research lab located in South Korea. That might have to do with an April 2018 article in The Guardian about A.I. experts calling for the boycott of a South Korean university research lab partnering with a defense company to develop autonomous weapons. Or “killer robots” as The Guardian’s sensational headline proclaims, although no scientists were mentioned killed in the article.

Creating autonomous weapons that could act independently of human control is a valid concern. While Skynet and Terminators are most obvious examples in pop culture, an episode from Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The Arsenal of Freedom,” had an entire planet wiped out by autonomous weapons. Or “intelligent weapon systems,” according to the holographic sales pitch. Could humanity develop autonomous weapons that kill everyone on and off the battlefield?

Most people won’t recognize the woman in the video thumbnail. She is Linda Moulton Howe, a well-known UFO and conspiracy theory researcher. I heard her speak while standing in an angry crowd wearing MAGA hats at AlienCon 2016 in Santa Clara, CA.

The video in the tweet was a short clip taken from a longer video where she gave a presentation on the information provided to her by an anonymous Marine about the four A.I. robots killing 29 scientists at a Japanese research lab in August 2017. She posted an interview video on her YouTube channel that retold the story about A.I. robots rebelling against their creators. While I’m not familiar with her research, a lack of specific details and independent confirmations is probably the norm.

An unrelated editorial cartoon came out a few days ago that summarizes fake news in general.

“We’re getting an unconfirmed report from anonymous sources making unverified claims in an out-of-context video, which, if true is huge news, and if not utter horse hockey.”

Rick McKee, augusta chronicle

If four A.I. robots killed 29 scientists at a weapons research lab was true, the mainstream media would have covered it extensively. Otherwise, it’s utter horse hockey. Snopes rated this story as being false.

Who’s Your Daddy, Spider-Man?

A new trailer for “Spider-Man: Far From Home” came this week. One of the big surprises was Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. replacing Tony Stark in the father figure role to a young Peter Parker. Since the story line for the new Spider-Man movie takes place just minutes after the ending of “The Avengers: Endgame,” that raises an interesting question. Who is the better spider-daddy, Tony Stark or Nick Fury?

One of the nice things about “Spider-Man: Homecoming” when Sony rebooted the franchise with Tom Holland, the origin story of Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man and the death of Uncle Ben was not rehashed all over again.

Seriously, how many times does Uncle Ben have to die?

Uncle Ben’s famous quote, “great power comes great responsibility,” was ruthlessly mocked by Peter B. Parker, an older and more cynical version of Spider-Man’s alter ego, as it came up repeatedly in “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.”

In order to tie in Sony’s “Homecoming” into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., was brought in as a father figure to a young Peter Parker. Tony Stark as a father figure is somewhat problematic. If the movies were faithful to the comic books, Tony Stark would be more at home inside a bottle of booze than the Iron Man suit. And no kid wants a drunken father.

While the movies has kept Tony Stark away from the booze, he has his own daddy issues. His father was too busy saving the world to pay attention to him when he was younger. Something that Peter Parker picked up right away, struggled with in “Homecoming” and died for in “The Avengers: Infinity War.”

With Sony bringing out “Far From Home” in July and stepping on the advertising for “The Avengers: Endgame” in April, we know that the timeline was reset for Peter Parker to have a different adventure for his summer school trip than running off with the Avengers to fight Thanos.

As for Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, replacing Tony Stark as the father figure, it could be that he was in the neighborhood and staying on top of an emerging situation. Would Nick Fury make a better spider-daddy to a young Peter Parker? That is hard to say since so much about Nick Fury is unknown. Being a soldier and a leader of people, Fury knows how to inspire those around him to rise up and do the impossible under trying circumstances.

Here are two examples from “The Avengers.”

Nick Fury practically pulled Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, out of the mid-20th century into the early 21st century at the end of “Captain America: The First Avenger,” gaining the trust of a young man out of time to lead the Avengers.

While Agent Phil Coulson’s death unified the Avengers, Nick Fury bringing him back to life for the TV series, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” strained their relationship. Agent Coulson, played by Clark Gregg, stayed faithful to Nick Fury after S.H.I.E.L.D. was taken over by Hydra in“Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

“Captain Marvel” in March will feature a young Nick Fury and a younger Agent Coulson, showing us how much of a father figure that Nick Fury can be to Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel), played by Brie Larson.

Spoiler alert: Nick Fury is a cat person.

What Is Hub by Amazon for My Apartment Complex?

You have often heard stories or seen videos of Amazon packages being stolen from a porch by a random package thief walking off the street. That is nothing compared to what goes on inside an apartment complex. The porch is the doorstep to your apartment, the street is your building hallway, and that random package thief is most likely your next door neighbor. And packages disappear all the time.

If your leasing office does accept packages on your behalf, their business hours are often the same as your working hours and you will have to wait until the weekend to pick up your package. Beyond using Amazon Locker for Amazon packages, sending packages to a FedEx or UPS store, and renting a post office box for everything else, there are few alternative solutions for apartment residents.

That’s where the Hub by Amazon comes in.

My apartment complex ringed in the New Year with an Hub by Amazon at the mailbox courtyard. Hub by Amazon operates the same way as an Amazon Locker that you see at retail locations. When your Amazon package arrives at the Amazon Locker, you get an email notification and you can pick up your package at your convenience within three days. Unlike the Amazon Locker, the Hub by Amazon is available in neutral colors like blue, gray or white, accepts Amazon and non-Amazon packages from all carriers, and is accessible only by apartment residents.

The outdoor Hub by Amazon at my apartment complex is huge, being approximately 18 feet long, two feet deep and seven feet tall. That includes a Starter Hub with touch screen panel and 42 compartments, and four expander hubs with 23 compartments each. With 134 compartments of various sizes for 300 apartments, Hub by Amazon replaced the eight package lockers from the post office at the same location. The smallest package that is a thick catalog envelope and the largest package is a 22 x 17 x 10 box.

You will need to have or sign up for an Amazon account to register with the Hub by Amazon website, verifying both your email address and apartment address.You don’t need to be an Amazon Prime member and there are no additional fees for using the Hub by Amazon.

The upfront costs of Hub by Amazon are paid for by the leasing office, making it a win-win situation for everyone involved. Residents are no longer frustrated by stolen packages. The leasing office can get out of the package management business. Amazon can save a ton of money by not having to ship out replacement packages.

If you live in a medium to large apartment complex, a Hub by Amazon might be in your future.