Weird Week: Who wouldn’t love AI that picks up on sarcasm?

Plus: NYC’s rat war scurries on and microplastics are… oh, boy.

  • Big whoop: AI can now understand sarcasm better than some people. Researchers in the Netherlands have created AI tech capable of detecting sarcasm. Trained on sitcoms like “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory,” the AI was able to accurately identify instances of sarcasm ~75% of the time — meaning robots are getting closer to understanding complex human communication as well as we can, and that Captchas are probably about to get even harder. Great.
  • It’s giving Gotham: NYC is enlisting vermin experts to take down its “enemy.” One year after electing a “rat czar,” NYC Mayor Eric Adams announced the city will host the first National Urban Rat Summit this fall as the latest measure to combat NYC’s rat infestation. It’s a big undertaking — the city houses an estimated 3m rats — and a long time coming: NYC’s rat problem dates back to the 18th century, when Norwegian rats (AKA brown rats or sewer rats, as they’re more popularly known today) arrived from Europe.
  • This is nuts: Microplastics have been found in everything from breast milk to bloodstreams and, now, testicles. In a study of 23 men ages 16-88, researchers found microplastics in the testicles of all participants, as well as a potential link between the foreign particles and the decadeslong mystery of declining sperm counts in men. Microplastics can be ingested through food, water, and even the air we breathe; a World Wildlife Fund study found that the average human consumes ~5 grams of plastic a week, roughly the weight of a credit card. Wish we could say we were busting your balls, but that’d be the plastic.

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