Weird week: Even the elephants can’t escape AI

Plus: Bathroom timers, microdosing mishaps, and devs who need dates.

  • Elephants apparently have names — but no, not like "Dumbo" or "Babar." Instead, they identify one another using distinct low grumbles, according to a new study from the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. Researchers used AI to decode 469 vocalizations from elephants in Kenya and found that individuals responded to specific calls, making them the first nonhuman animals observed to use name-calling like we do — i.e., by assigning abstract sounds to objects. As for the trumpet-y sounds they make? Those are likely just emotional outbursts.
  • Some mushroom chocolates are sending people on a trip... to the hospital. The FDA and CDC have both issued warnings against eating Diamond Shruumz-branded products after its “microdosing” chocolate bars left multiple people hospitalized. At least 12 people across eight states have reported symptoms ranging from seizures and fainting to nausea and hypertension. Despite the branding, the company said its products contain nootropic mushrooms but no actual psychedelic substances.
  • You know what’s worse than a long bathroom line? Having to explain what’s taking you so long. China’s Yungang Grottoes — a UNESCO World Heritage Site that saw a record 3m visitors in 2023 — recently installed timers on its bathroom stalls. Some netizens have questioned the new tech, like why the park didn’t just invest in adding more bathrooms, but the update reportedly isn’t meant to rush people. Instead, according to park staff, it’s to “[ensure] the well-being of all guests”: Apparently, someone being in a stall too long could indicate an emergency (though a bathroom emergency is probably not something you want strangers checking in on you about).
  • To be better at their jobs, these developers will need to spice up their nonexistent love lives. Since its 2020 release, users of the RPG game “Troubleshooter: Abandoned Children” have expressed their desire for a dating feature, but the game’s developers have struggled to produce one. Why? According to one developer, the team’s members “have no experience with [dating], even in real life.” Welp — art really does imitate life.
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