The bankruptcy filing by Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit Holdings Inc (VORB.O) has dealt a blow to Japan’s hopes of building a domestic space industry, with plans for a Kyushu-based spaceport designed to attract tourism on hold for lack of funding.
An air taxi service set to feature at the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka was tested in Osaka Castle Park on Tuesday, in what the prefectural government says is the first time in the country one of the craft has been piloted from the cockpit.
The “taxi” they tested only fits one person. If the plan is to taxi visitors to the Expo back and forth between various artificial islands, I hope there are plans to test the actual three- to six-seaters.
And of course, there is always the “big challenges ahead are Japanese regulations and residents’ feelings” things. I wouldn’t be surprised if the first flying taxi to successfully taxi people around by air also becomes the first flying taxi to have a flying traffic accident.
The feat, which involved firing powerful laser pulses at thunderclouds over several months last year, paves the way for laser-based lightning protection systems at airports, launchpads and tall buildings.
I’ve been testing ChatGPT over the last couple of days. (If you don’t know what this chatbot is, here’s a good NYT article about ChatGPT and others currently in development.)
The avowed purpose of ChatGPT is to create an AI that can create believable dialogues. It does this by scouring the web for data it uses to respond to simple prompts.
By “simple,” I mean sometimes “horribly complicated,” of course. And sometimes a little ridiculous.
As has been pointed out, chatbots only generate texts based on what they have been fed, i.e., “garbage in / garbage out.” So if you push the programs hard enough, they will generate racist, sexist, homophobic etc awful stuff — because unfortunately that kind of sick and twisted garbage is still out there, somewhere online in a troll’s paradise.
So far, I have asked the program to:
Write a haiku about winter without using the word “winter”
Write a limerick about an Irish baseball player
Write a dialogue between God and Nietzsche (I just had to…)
Imagine what Jean-Paul Sartre and Immanuel Kant would say to each other (see above) but using US ’50 slang
Have Thomas Aquinas and John Locke argue about the existence of God (that one was fun)
Write a 300 word cause-effect essay about climate change
Write a 300 word compare and contrast essay about the US and Japan
Write a 1000 word short science fiction story based on Mars
Write a 1500 word short science fiction about robots in the style of Philip K Dick
These aren’t the drones that deliver your online order. Loaded with cameras, sensors, and explosives, their mission is to drive themselves to a target with an algorithm in the driver’s seat. They destroy themselves along with the target, leaving behind just a pile of electronic detritus.
The original report was published online by the U of Tokyo before it was covered last week by several online sources, including WebMD, the Independent,France 24, and ABC7, but the Sora News is the only one to post Japanese reader comments about, well, what fingers can do. Ahem.
The final quote of the researchers was posted on WebMD as:
“We believe this is a great step toward a new biohybrid robot with the superior functions of living organisms.”
The inclusion of an ion propulsion system in a long-running, Earth-orbiting space station will give researchers a chance to test out the tech while astronauts are still close to home — and if it works as hoped, it could one day ferry explorers to Mars and even more distant destinations.