The threat of microplastics, and reducing AI bias

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The news: Although we know that tiny pieces of plastic are everywhere, we don’t fully understand what they do to us and other animals. Now, a new study in seabirds suggests that it may affect gut microbiomes — the trillions of microbes that inhabit the gut and play an important role in the animal’s health.

The findings are: Seabirds ingest plastic from the ocean, which can accumulate in their stomachs. The research shows that the birds have potentially harmful microbes in their guts, including those that are resistant to antibiotics and other pathogens.

Why is it important? The report expands our view of what plastic pollution is doing to wildlife and sheds light on the harmful effects of the current plastic environment on the environment. The next step is to find out what this means for their health and the health of other animals, including humans. Read the full story.

-Jessica Hamzelu

What if we just asked AI to be biased?

Think of a teacher. Close your eyes. What does that person look like? If you ask Stable Diffusion or DALL-E 2 among the most popular AI image generators, it’s the white man with glasses.

But what if you could simply ask AI models to give you less biased answers? A new tool called Fair Distribution makes it easy to adjust AI models to generate the type of images you want, such as swapping white men in images for women or people of different races. A similar mechanism seems to work for language models.

These AI methods to combat bias are welcome – and raise the obvious question of whether they should be baked into models from the start. Read the full story.

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