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Vatican Calls Nonbinary Gender “Fictitious”

The Vatican released the church’s 31-page guide to sexuality Monday—titled Male and Female He Created Them—designed to help Catholics and Catholic schools around the world teach and talk about individual sexuality.

The report described the idea that a spectrum might exist on human sexuality as a fictitious construct and “nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants.”

The process of identifying sexual identity is made more difficult by the fictitious construct known as “gender neuter” or “third gender”, which has the effect of obscuring the fact that a person’s sex is a structural determinant of male or female identity.

USA Today reports: ‘LGBTQ Catholics denounced the document, stating that it “will cause families to reject their children, and it will increase alienation of LGBT people from the Church.” 

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UN Threatens EU with ‘sea of blood’ unless rescue vessels deployed

The risk of migrants and refugees drowning in the Mediterranean will rise significantly if more rescue vessels are not deployed soon, as thousands are people are preparing to leave war-torn Libya and head towards Europe, the UN warned on Sunday. 

From the more than one million refugees and migrants who entered the European Union in 2015, sea arrivals plummeted to 141,500 in 2018, according to the UN. Carlotta Sami, spokeswoman for the UN’s Refugee Agency, said, according to the Guardian.  “We are witnessing a sharp increase in departures.

Scores of EU-bound migrants are reportedly gearing up to leave Libya by boat as the war-hit country suffers devastating floods. But the lack of humanitarian ships patrolling the Mediterranean will put their lives at risk, Mrs Sami said.   

Out of the 10 rescue vessels that were active across the Mediterranean in recent years, only one – run by the German charity SeaWatch – remains. But while the number of migrants reaching EU shores is falling, the bloc remains deeply divided over how to handle migration and refugees. 

A group of international lawyers said last week that EU states should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity over the migrant sea deaths.

The lawyers also slammed the bloc’s “deterrence-based migration policy, intended to sacrifice the lives of migrants in distress at sea”. 

“Instead of immediately rescuing and bringing … the civilian population in distress at sea to safety, the EU has facilitated the death of thousands by drowning, before introducing a comprehensive system of forced deportations to concentration camp-like detention facilities,” lawyer Juan Branco told AFP. 

More than 12,000 people have drowned at sea in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the EU migrant crisis in 2014.  


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AI is worse at identifying household items from poor countries

Object recognition algorithms sold by tech companies, including Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, perform worse when asked to identify items from lower-income countries.

These are the findings of a new study conducted by Facebook’s AI lab, which shows that AI bias can not only reproduce inequalities within countries, but also between them. In the study (which we spotted via Jack Clark’s Import AI newsletter), researchers tested five popular off-the-shelf object recognition algorithms — Microsoft Azure, Clarifai, Google Cloud Vision, Amazon Rekognition, and IBM Watson — to see how well each program identified household items collected from a global dataset.

The researchers found that the object recognition algorithms made around 10 percent more errors when asked to identify items from a household with a $50 monthly income compared to those from a household making more than $3,500. The absolute difference in accuracy was even greater: the algorithms were 15 to 20 percent better at identifying items from the US compared to items from Somalia and Burkina Faso.

One of the most well-known examples of AI bias is with facial recognition algorithms, which regularly perform worse when identifying female faces, particularly women of color.

What does all this mean? Well, for a start, it means that any system created using these algorithms is going to perform worse for people from lower-income and non-Western countries. Because US tech companies are world leaders in AI, that could affect everything from photo storage services and image search functionality to more important systems like automated security cameras and self-driving cars.

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Mark Zuckerberg is the Latest Victim of Deep Fake Videos

Two U.K.-based artists created a deepfake of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to show just how dangerous AI-generated videos can be. Facebook is leaving the video up, sticking to a controversial stance it took when a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) went viral.

Deepfakes are fake videos that show a person saying or doing something they did not. The technique uses a mixture of real footage and artificial intelligence to falsify someone’s actions or speech.

As the technology gets better, many are worried that such videos will be used to spread misinformation and propaganda online.

A deepfake video of Mark Zuckerberg presents a new challenge

The video, posted to Facebook-owned Instagram over the weekend, falsely portrays Zuckerberg as saying,

“Imagine this for a second: One man, with total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures.”

An Instagram spokesperson told CNN Business on Tuesday that the site will treat the video “the same way we treat all misinformation on Instagram.” If it’s marked as false by third-party fact checkers, the spokesperson said, the site’s algorithms won’t recommend people view it.

The Zuckerberg video, which was first reported by Vice, comes as the US Congress prepares to hold its first hearing on the potential threats posed by deepfake videos. Earlier this year, the US Director of National Intelligence warned that America’s adversaries may use deepfake technology in future disinformation campaigns targeting the country.The video had less than 5,000 views before first being reported by news media, but how Facebook treats it could set a precedent for its handling of future deepfake videos.


Engineers at Facebook’s AI research lab created a machine learning system that can not only clone a person’s voice, but also their cadence — an uncanny ability they showed off by duplicating the voices of Bill Gates and other notable figures.

This system, dubbed Melnet, could lead to more realistic-sounding AI voice assistants or voice models, the kind used by people with speech impairments — but it could also make it even more difficult to discern between actual speech and audio deepfakes.

The speech is still somewhat robotic, but the voices are recognizable — and if researchers can smooth out the system even slightly, it’s conceivable that Melnet could fool the casual listener into thinking they’re hearing a public figure saying something they never actually uttered.

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Type A blood can be converted to universal donor blood

On any given day, hospitals across the world use tremendous amounts of donated blood for emergency surgeries, scheduled operations, and routine transfusions. But recipients can’t take just any blood: For a transfusion to be successful, the patient and donor blood types must be compatible.

Now, researchers analyzing bacteria in the human gut have found out that microbes there produce two enzymes that can convert the common type A into a more universally accepted type. If the process pans out, blood specialists suggest it could revolutionize blood donation and transfusion.

“This is a first, and if these data can be replicated, it is certainly a major advance,”

People typically have one of four blood types—A, B, AB, or O. If a person with type A receives type B blood, or vice versa, molecules called blood antigens, can cause the immune system to mount a deadly attack on the red blood cells. But type O cells lack these antigens, making it possible to transfuse that blood type into anyone. That makes this “universal” blood especially important in emergency rooms, where nurses and doctors may not have time to determine an accident victim’s blood type.

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One Industry May Emit Much More Methane Than the Rest

According to a new study, the production of ammonia for fertilizer may result in up to 100 times more emissions than has been previously estimated for this sector. And that alone is more than what the Environmental Protection Agency estimates all industries emit across the U.S.

The team of authors from Cornell University and the Environmental Defense Fund had two sampling adventures in June 2015 and September 2016 that took them to six ammonia fertilizer plants in the Midwest, including Oklahoma, Kansas, and Iowa. They used their findings to estimate industry-wide emissions throughout the U.S.

This is an estimate based only on six plants. They make up more than 25 percent of the 23 plants operating in 2016 and are also of varying sizes to represent the different facilities throughout the U.S., so the six are a pretty good sample. But the authors would like to examine more plants to be sure.

Methane isn’t just dangerous for our planet because it’s worsening climate change; its emissions are often coupled with particulate matter and other air pollutants that pose threats to the health of communities closest to the facilities where it’s being emitted.