News That Matters

Tag: Humans

Google to warn when humans chat with convincing bots

Google to warn when humans chat with convincing bots

Technology
Google says it will take steps to ensure that humans are not fooled when they get called by software bots that can convincingly mimic the human voice. Anyone called by the bot will be told they are conversing with a machine, Google told tech news site the Verge.The vocal skills of the Duplex bot were demonstrated at Google's I/O developer conference this week when it was shown booking a hair appointment.The demo left one technology expert "horrified" by what she had seen.Social impactIn its statement, Google said it valued the discussion the demonstration had fostered and said "transparency" around the use of the technology was important."We are designing this feature with disclosure built-in, and we'll make sure the system is ap...
Humans have shrunk the planet's mammals

Humans have shrunk the planet's mammals

Science
April 20 (UPI) -- Humans have been altering the course of mammalian evolution for thousands of years, according to new research.Even before humans migrated out of Africa, early human populations had begun to influence animal size and diversity. The latest study, published this week in the journal Science, suggests size-selective extinction is not a natural product of evolution but a trademark of human activity."One of the most surprising finds was that 125,000 years ago, the average body size of mammals on Africa was already 50 percent smaller than on other continents," lead author Felisa Smith, a paleoecologist at the University of New Mexico, said in a news release. "We suspect this means that archaic humans and other hominins had already influenced mammal diversity and body size in the ...
Study: Humans in South Africa thrived during Toba super-volcanic eruption

Study: Humans in South Africa thrived during Toba super-volcanic eruption

Science
March 12 (UPI) -- The Toba super-volcanic eruption that occurred 74,000 years ago significantly altered Earth's atmosphere and ecosystems around the planet, yielding hardship for most species, including humans.But new research suggests that hunter-gatherers living on the coast of Southern Africa thrived in the wake of the massive eruption.When Mount Toba, located in Indonesia, erupted some 74,000 years ago, the volcano spewed rock, gas and tiny glass fragments called cryptotephra into the atmosphere. These hook-shaped glass particles, identifiable under a microscope, spread across the globe.While analyzing sediment from an archaeological site called Pinnacle Point near the town of Mossel Bay, South Africa, scientists found a shard of Toba glass. When formed, cryptotephra trap a chemical si...
How humans echolocate 'like bats'

How humans echolocate 'like bats'

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceA study has revealed secrets that help some blind people navigate their world by "seeing with sound". People who use "echolocation" employ it in a very similar way to bats - producing clicks that bounce off objects and "sonify" them into a picture of the surroundings. A study of experts in the technique has revealed how louder clicks allow "echolocators" to see behind them. The insights are published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B. The key finding was that - just like bats - expert echolocators instinctively increase the intensity (or loudness) of their clicks, and click more frequently when an object is off to the side or behind them. "Everyone's clicks are different," explained Daniel Kish, a co-author on this study, who is also a b...
Neanderthals made first cave paintings 20,000 years before modern humans

Neanderthals made first cave paintings 20,000 years before modern humans

Science
Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Modern humans weren't the first hominin with an artistic side. New research suggests Neanderthals were painting the walls of caves at least 64,000 years ago, roughly 20,000 years before modern humans began populating Europe.Archaeologists discovered a series of ancient cave paintings in Spain. The artwork was made with paint derived from rich red-colored minerals. Scientists were able to date the paintings by analyzing the layers of carbonate deposited atop the paint.The analysis method, called deuranium-thorium dating, proved the paintings were made more than 64,000 years ago."Our results show that the paintings we dated are, by far, the oldest known cave art in the world," Chris Standish, an archaeologist at the University of Southampton, said in a news release.[embedded...