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Europe refugee crisis, short term solutions

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As the number of refugees is constantly increasing, governments don’t seem to have an immediate response to the crisis that is upon us. In the first 7 months of 2015, more than 224.000 of refugees from Syrian, Afghanistan and Eritrea have entered Europe, according to the UN refugee agency. The real number is most likely higher because as governments continue to fail in making a decision towards putting an end to this crisis, activists and volunteers have taken matters into their own hands.

For example, the Peng Collective is an activist group founded 2 years ago in Berlin by Max Thalbach. Thalbach doesn’t encourage hiding refugees in trunks of cars or caring them across the Mediterranean Sea with illegal ships, he built a web-based campaign through which he publishes a device and tips on how to cross the borders by slipping passed roadway checkpoints. The Peng Collective is aware that people who cross European borders, undocumented, if caught, might face up to 10 years in prison. But those who with Thalbach’s tips manage to cross the borders have their legal costs covered by an online fund sat up by the activist’s group. Activists aren’t the only ones who offer refugees a chance to reintegrate in society, a big wave of volunteerism and online campaigns have been initiated. For example, last month, more than 10.000 Facebook users from Iceland offered to take in refugees because their government would only take in 50 people.

The public opinion on the crisis is divided across Europe because of a number of terrorists (ISIS), that have entered European countries alongside refugees. Although accepting terrorists is an actual threat we shouldn’t close our borders to good people who have lost everything and only want a new chance.

Who doesn’t enjoy listening to a good story. Personally I love reading about the people who inspire me and what it took for them to achieve their success. As I am a bit of a self confessed tech geek I think there is no better way to discover these stories than by reading every day some articles or the newspaper . My bookcases are filled with good tech biographies, they remind me that anyone can be a success. So even if you come from an underprivileged part of society or you aren’t the smartest person in the room we all have a chance to reach the top. The same message shines in my beliefs. All it takes to succeed is a good idea, a little risk and a lot of hard work and any geek can become a success. VENI VIDI VICI .

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Threads finally starts its own program to check facts

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Meta’s latest social network, Threads, is launching its own fact-checking initiative after leveraging Instagram and Facebook’s networks for a brief period.

Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Instagram, stated that the company has recently implemented a feature that allows fact-checkers to assess and label false content on threads. Nevertheless, Mosseri refrained from providing specific information regarding the exact timing of the program’s implementation and whether it was restricted to certain geographical regions.

The fact-checking partners for Threads—which organizations are affiliated with Meta—are not clearly specified. We have requested additional information from the company and will revise the story accordingly upon receiving a response.

The upcoming U.S. elections appear to be the main driving force behind the decision. India is currently in the midst of its general elections. However, it is improbable that a social network would implement a fact-checking program specifically during an election cycle rather than initiating the project prior to the elections.

In December, Meta announced its intention to implement the fact-checking program on Threads.

“At present, we align the fact-check ratings from Facebook or Instagram with Threads. However, our objective is to empower fact-checking partners to evaluate and assign ratings to misinformation on the application,” Mosseri stated in a post during that period.

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Science

X cautions that you may experience a decrease in the number of followers as it conducts another round of bot detection and removal

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X is notifying users that they might experience a decrease in their number of followers while the company undertakes a comprehensive effort to eliminate spammers and bots from the network. X’s Safety account has announced that the firm will be launching a proactive initiative to delete accounts that breach X’s regulations regarding platform manipulation and spam. This project is described as substantial and aims to take decisive action against such accounts.

X recently made a decision to add two new leaders to its safety team. Kylie McRoberts, who already works at X, has been appointed as the Head of Safety. Additionally, Yale Cohen, who formerly worked at Publicis Media, has joined X as the Head of Brand Safety and Advertiser Solutions.

Elon Musk has shown a strong desire to address the issue of spam at X. In November 2022, he informed staff that his intention was to prioritize the fight against spam in the future.

Nevertheless, the challenge of combating spam has proven to be more formidable than anticipated, particularly due to significant reductions in staff within Twitter’s Trust & Safety team. Additionally, the position of Head of Safety remained unfilled for a period of 10 months following the exits of Ella Irwin and Yoel Roth during Musk’s tenure.

The progress in AI has also increased the challenge of controlling spam.

In a previous investigation by TechCrunch, it was noted that Musk’s attempt to charge customers for verification did not effectively prevent spammers from using the network. Several bots, identified by their Verified Blue checkmark, were discovered responding to posts on X with a modified version of the statement, “I regret to inform you that I am unable to provide a response as it violates OpenAI’s use case policy.” This clearly indicated that these were not human users but rather automated bots.

Furthermore, a recent article by the New York Intelligencer has provided a comprehensive account of the increasing prevalence of spam that promotes adult content. This spam is disseminated through explicit answers, which include links in the users’ bios for others to click on.

Musk’s dissatisfaction with the magnitude of spam on the network was a major obstacle when he initially attempted to withdraw from the $44 billion Twitter transaction. He claimed that the firm had been dishonest about the quantity of bots. However, at present, Musk is promoting the fact that X is experiencing an unprecedented amount of website visitors, but he has not specified if his statistics account for automated programs and unsolicited messages.

As per the release from the X Safety team, the firm plans to take extensive measures to eliminate spam and bots from the network, potentially leading to a decrease in follower counts. This is typical of the regular bot sweeps conducted on its platform.

X also included a link to a form where people who were unintentionally impacted by the bot purge could submit an appeal.

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Science

What was the language spoken by the earliest inhabitants of North America?

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Although the Americas were the last continents on Earth to be inhabited by humans (excluding Antarctica), they are believed to have been the birthplace of numerous language families throughout history. By tracing the origins of these dialects back to their prehistoric roots, a recent study has unveiled a fascinating connection between every North American language and two ancient Siberian mother tongues. These languages were introduced to America approximately 24,000 and 14,000 years ago, respectively.

In the time before English, Spanish, French, or Dutch were spoken in North America, the continent was filled with around 200 distinct language families, creating a rich tapestry of linguistic diversity. It is believed that the first of these vernaculars was introduced when glaciation created a pathway from Siberia to Alaska during the late Pleistocene. However, tracing the spread and evolution of this language over the years poses a challenging narrative.

Renowned linguist Johanna Nichols from the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a comprehensive study to decode this oral history. She analyzed the semantic features of 60 diverse North American languages, representing various language families and covering the entire geographical range of the continent. In order to group these languages together, Nichols examined “16 linguistic structural features that are recognized or expected to be reliable indicators of language families, regions, or underlying types.”

Some features that can be found in languages include gendered nouns, numeral classifiers, and pronouns that vary based on the speaker. For instance, the first-person singular pronoun may have “n” as its first consonant, while the second-person singular form may have “m” instead.

Ultimately, Nichols discovered that all languages can be traced back to two original populations. The first population settled along the west coast of North America, with two waves of Siberian immigrants arriving 24,000 and 15,000 years ago. During a period when glaciation prevented human settlement north of the Columbia River, these two groups of newcomers interacted in California and Oregon, leading to the emergence of the first unique group of American languages.

According to Nichols, this dialect stands out for its frequent use of n-m pronouns and came before the emergence of the second Siberian language type. This language type emerged among the earliest inland communities after the creation of an ice-free corridor approximately 14,000 years ago. This second founder population gave rise to the languages spoken by the famous Clovis culture, which occupied parts of North America prior to 10,000 BCE. These languages are characterized by polysynthesis, where sentence-like words can be formed by stacking up affixes.

Speakers of these dialects later interacted with a fourth wave of Siberian entrants around 12,000 years ago. This interaction led to the development of a family of languages that were different from those spoken in California and Oregon. These languages eventually became the common language among the earliest settlers of the Pacific Northwest.

In conclusion, Nichols suggests that the ancient Siberian linguistic populations played a crucial role in establishing the initial American populations, based on the analysis of structural profiles.

In her writing, she highlights that the structural properties of the founder languages still have a significant influence on modern linguistic populations. This suggests that the ancient glaciation events that created these entry windows shaped the distribution of North American languages.

The study has been published in a reputable academic journal.

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