Unbound: No 170: Christmas Edition
By Barbara Bickham profile image Barbara Bickham
6 min read

Unbound: No 170: Christmas Edition

Unbound: No 170: Christmas Edition - Read about new training methods for AI generalization, blockchain's impact on Christmas giving, and AI-driven holiday phishing scams.

New Training Method Helps AI Generalize like People Do
BY LAUREN LEFFER | Scientific America

Photo by Aideal Hwa on Unsplash

The key to developing flexible machine-learning models that are capable of reasoning like people do may not be feeding them oodles of training data. Instead, a new study suggests, it might come down to how they are trained. These findings could be a big step toward better, less error-prone artificial intelligence models and could help illuminate the secrets of how AI systems—and humans—learn.

Humans are master remixers. When people understand the relationships among a set of components, such as food ingredients, we can combine them into all sorts of delicious recipes. With language, we can decipher sentences we’ve never encountered before and compose complex, original responses because we grasp the underlying meanings of words and the rules of grammar. In technical terms, these two examples are evidence of “compositionality,” or “systematic generalization”—often viewed as a key principle of human cognition. “I think that is the most important definition of intelligence,” says Paul Smolensky, a cognitive scientist at Johns Hopkins University. “You can go from knowing about the parts to dealing with the whole.”

3 Minute Read →


How blockchain transforms Christmas giving
by Kyle Melnick | Cointelegraph

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Blockchain technology in Christmas giving

From enhancing transparency and trust in charitable donations to introducing the concept of tokenized gifts, blockchain is infusing a new spirit into the season.

As the festive lights begin to twinkle and the scent of pine fills the air, the season of giving takes center stage. The tradition of exchanging gifts during Christmas has long been a symbol of love, compassion and generosity. However, in the digital age, this age-old practice is already undergoing a profound transformation, thanks to the integration of cutting-edge tech like blockchain.

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AI drives holiday phishing scams, as well as email defenses
by Laura French | SC Magazine

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Holiday phishing scams in 2023 will come with a new twist: generative artificial intelligence.

The booming technology, inbox defenders warn, gives phishing attackers a new weapon in their arsenal to rob companies and consumers busily tracking holiday packages and spending a record $270 billion in online shopping.

The good news is that cybersecurity professionals are also flexing their AI muscles, building on innovative machine-learning technology to protect against phishing fraud.

3 Minute Read →


🌙 NASA - Best Photo from Last Week
Hubble Glimpses a Glistening Cluster

This new image of NGC 2264, also known as the “Christmas Tree Cluster,” shows the shape of a cosmic tree with the glow of stellar lights. NGC 2264 is, in fact, a cluster of young stars — with ages between about one and five million years old — in our Milky Way about 2,500 light-years away from Earth. The stars in NGC 2264 are both smaller and larger than the Sun, ranging from some with less than a tenth the mass of the Sun to others containing about seven solar masses.

This new composite image enhances the resemblance to a Christmas tree through choices of color and rotation. The blue and white lights (which blink in the animated version of this image) are young stars that give off X-rays detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Optical data from the National Science Foundation’s WIYN 0.9-meter telescope on Kitt Peak shows gas in the nebula in green, corresponding to the “pine needles” of the tree, and infrared data from the Two Micron All Sky Survey shows foreground and background stars in white. This image has been rotated clockwise by about 160 degrees from the astronomer’s standard of North pointing upward, so that it appears like the top of the tree is toward the top of the image.

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This composite image shows the Christmas Tree Cluster. The blue and white lights (which blink in the animated version of this image) are young stars that give off X-rays detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Optical data from the National Science Foundation’s WIYN 0.9-meter telescope on Kitt Peak shows gas in the nebula in green, corresponding to the “pine needles” of the tree, and infrared data from the Two Micron All Sky Survey shows foreground and background stars in white. This image has been rotated clockwise by about 160 degrees from the astronomer’s standard of North pointing upward, so that it appears like the top of the tree is toward the top of the image.

Young stars, like those in NGC 2264, are volatile and undergo strong flares in X-rays and other types of variations seen in different types of light. The coordinated, blinking variations shown in this animation, however, are artificial, to emphasize the locations of the stars seen in X-rays and highlight the similarity of this object to a Christmas tree. In reality the variations of the stars are not synchronized.

The variations observed by Chandra and other telescopes are caused by several different processes. Some of these are related to activity involving magnetic fields, including flares like those undergone by the Sun — but much more powerful — and hot spots and dark regions on the surfaces of the stars that go in and out of view as the stars rotate. There can also be changes in the thickness of gas obscuring the stars, and changes in the amount of material still falling onto the stars from disks of surrounding gas.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center controls science operations from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.

Read more from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/mission/chandra-x-ray-observatory/

Visual Description:
This release features a composite image of a cluster of young stars looking decidedly like a cosmic Christmas tree! The cluster, known as NGC 2264, is in our Milky Way Galaxy, about 2,500 light-years from Earth. Some of the stars in the cluster are relatively small, and some are relatively large, ranging from one tenth to seven times the mass of our Sun.

In this composite image, the cluster’s resemblance to a Christmas tree has been enhanced through image rotation and color choices. Optical data is represented by wispy green lines and shapes, which creates the boughs and needles of the tree shape. X-rays detected by Chandra are presented as blue and white lights, and resemble glowing dots of light on the tree. Infrared data show foreground and background stars as gleaming specks of white against the blackness of space. The image has been rotated by about 150 degrees from the astronomer’s standard of North pointing upwards. This puts the peak of the roughly conical tree shape near the top of the image, though it doesn’t address the slight bare patch in the tree’s branches, at our lower right, which should probably be turned to the corner.

In this release, the festive cluster is presented as both a static image, and as a short animation. In the animation, blue and white X-ray dots from Chandra flicker and twinkle on the tree, like the lights on a Christmas tree.

News Media Contact
Megan Watzke
Chandra X-ray Center
Cambridge, Mass.
617-496-7998

Jonathan Deal
Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville, Ala.
256-544-0034


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By Barbara Bickham profile image Barbara Bickham
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