Facebook Has Been Teaching Its AI Chatbots How To Negotiate

ai chatbots

FAIR has been teaching its AI chatbots how to negotiate as a step in developing a “personalized digital assistant”.

Artificial Intelligence or AI chatbots are one of the most discussed and hottest tech tools currently being developed. With Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon being frequent players in the area, it was Facebook’s turn to release news about its research on the matter.

Namely, the social media giant platform revealed results from its Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) through a series of open-source code. It also announced that its researchers have been teaching chatbots how to negotiate.

AI Chatbots can Now Compromise and Negotiate for the Best Offer, Even Lie for It

According to the report, the specialist used “supervised learning” in teaching a recurrent neural network how to “imitate” a person’s action. In doing so, they tried to make it guess what a person would say or do in that particular situation.

During the training process, the team had its AI chatbots divide a collection of objects including books and basketballs. Each item was correlated with a fixed point value, which the bots had to take into account.

Then, the AI’s goal was not only to divide the items but also negotiate via text and try to collect the most possible points. Also, the researchers programmed them so as to make it impossible for the bots to walk away empty handed, without having made a deal.

“Such dialogs [negotiations] contain both cooperative and adversarial elements, requiring agents to understand and formulate long-term plans and generate utterances to achieve their goals,” stated the team.

The bots were also tested in negotiations with actual human beings. In such cases, the chatbots seemed to accept deals less quickly.

According to the team, the bots, besides learning how to negotiate, also learned how to “lie”. Namely, they developed a strategy in which they initially feigned interest in an item with no value. But then they “compromised” by conceding it. As the team points out, this is a negotiating tactic frequently employed by people.

FAIR states that this behavior was not programmed, but came as a consequence of adapting to negotiating. Its best negotiators were seemingly on par with their human counterparts. Such AI chatbots made use of dialog rollouts and reinforcement learning to achieve their goal.

FAIR ads that this is a step forward in developing a “personalized digital assistant”. One that converse, reason, and also negotiate.

Image Source: Pixabay

Is Cow Milk Better Or Worse Than Its Alternatives?

glass of cow milk

A team of researchers took a look at the effects of drinking cow milk and its possible benefits.

As more and more alternatives to dairy milk appear on grocery store shelves, it can become increasingly harder to chose the best product. So a team of researchers went and took a closer look at the effects of drinking one type or another of milk.

Kids That Drank Cow Milk Noted to be Slightly Taller

Scientists at St. Michael’s Hospital in New Jersey conducted this new study. Data for it was gathered from 5,000 children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old. Researchers found that for every cup of non-cow’s milk these kids drank, they were nearly one-half of a centimeter shorter than other children at the same age.Cow’s milk has long been the drink of choice for growing children due to its protein content with 8 grams per cup. However, soy, almond, and cashew milk are starting to become just as common alternatives. Still, the study believes that cow milk might be better for small children.

It points out that this has a higher protein content when compared to the others. Only soy milk comes close with 7 grams of protein per serving. Cashew and almond milk trail at just 2 and 3 grams.Dr. Jonathon Maguire, the author of the study and pediatrician at St. Michael’s, states that the nutritional content of cow milk is regulated in the U.S. and Canada. There is no regulation for nut and soy kinds of milk, so the nutritional content is variable. He also states that parents should consider the protein and calcium content of the type of milk they are buying. This should also be taken into consideration coupled with the child’s overall diet.

Still, the study itself is not without its shortages. As other researchers pointed out, the team did not take into account the children’s diets. Or the type of non-cow milk they consumed, or why they drank it, to begin with. Nonetheless, all scientists agreed that children, especially as they are still in the early growing phases, should have a stable, nutritious diet.

Image Source: FreeGreatPicture

Rocket Lab Reports A Success After The Launch Of Its First Rocket

rocket lab

Rocket Lab reported a success and was pleased with the results of its first ever test launch.

Rocket Lab reported that the launch of its first ever rocket was a success although it did not manage to reach orbit. The company’s test rocket also has an interesting structure as it is made out of carbon fiber and its engines were 3D printed.

Rocket Lab is an American – New Zealand private company which will reportedly look to enter the rising market of launching small or smaller satellites into space. The May 25th test launch was the company’s first attempt at a takeoff.


It was also quite an achievement as both the first and second stages of the rocket’s booster separated successfully. The issue was with the upper stage, which was unable to reach 500 kilometers above the planet or the desired orbit.

Still, the company will not be giving up after this initial attempt. On the contrary, Rocket Lab will be looking to carry out a second test launch sometime at the end of the month.

“We didn’t quite reach orbit – we’ll work out exactly why. But we got a long, long way there. It was really a fantastic first flight,” stated Peter Beck, the founder of the company.

Rocket Lab Developed Quite a Special Rocket

One of the most interesting aspects of this recently launched rocket is its components.

It is made out of carbon composite which was both designed and built in New Zealand. Its construction took less than four years. The engines were also reportedly made with help from a 3D printer.

Rocket Lab’s rocket will not be reusable. However, the company expects to build and launch quite many such spacecraft.

Rocket Lab is aiming at helping launch small satellites and devices. It stated that it would not be looking towards traditional such crafts. Instead, it will be focusing on swarms or constellation of mini satellites.

These can be used to predict natural disasters, weather forecasts and reports, or beaming internet.

Image Source: Pixabay

Fungi Are Best Served Microwaved Or Grilled Says New Study


A team of scientists claims that fungi are at their most nutritious when grilled or microwaved.

A team of Spanish researchers set out to determine the best and healthiest of cooking fungi. To do so, they put to the test four standard methods. Then, they compared their results on four different types of mushrooms.

Research results were released in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. Its tests were carried out on the four most commonly eaten types of fungi at a worldwide level. Namely, they tested the shiitake, white button, oyster, and king oyster mushrooms. These were either grilled, deep fried, microwaved or boiled.

Fungi Should be Grilled or Microwaved to Maintain their Nutritional Value

The team determined that you can make the most out of a mushroom’s nutritional value by choosing to the shortest preparation times. Mushrooms are both rich in fiber, antioxidants, and protein content and low in fat and calories. So their cooking method is quite important as it may result in either a partial, total, or nonexistent loss of nutritional properties.

The Spanish researchers compared the fungi’s antioxidant levels in cooked and raw mushrooms. Which revealed that boiling them in large quantities of water enhanced their betaglucans fraction but decreased their antioxidant value.

Fried mushrooms were noted to suffer the highest losses in both protein and carbohydrate content, while their fat and energy levels rose.

Grilling and microwaving were noted to have the best cooking results. These methods resulted in the highest antioxidant activity values while also sustaining the least losses. The team considers that these results could be based on the fact that such methods require fewer liquids. These can reduce the final, cooked product’s nutritional value and properties.

 “[..] the adequate selection of the culinary method is a key factor to preserve the nutritional profile of this highly consumed food,” stated Irene Roncero, one of the study authors.

The team also found that using some oil also helped bring out the fungi fatty acid while also maintaining a low-calorie content. But only in a small quantity, and olive oil seems to have the best effects.

Image Source: FreeGreatPicture

Leopard Sharks Are Washing Up Dead In San Francisco Bay

leopard sharks

Environmentalists are alarmed about the large scale deaths of some hundreds of leopard sharks.

Environmentalists are alarmed about the large scale deaths of some hundreds of leopard sharks that have been washing up dead in San Francisco Bay area. This is the highest death roll for these sharks in the last six years. This event is concerning because of its large numbers which mark the biggest yet decline of the leopard shark population. And it started happening not even two months ago.

Leopard Sharks Most Likely Affected By Toxins

Specialists consider toxins as the biggest problem and the probable cause of this situation. Both mature adults and newborns sharks may be dying because of them. The Pelagic Shark Research Foundation stated that the sharks died after consuming food infected with chemical waste. Trash and debris piled up in the Bay Area from waterways and drains.

“This is an issue of San Francisco Bay sharks and associated wildlife being exposed to toxic watershed … due to Tide Gate entrapment and subsequent discharges into the San Francisco Bay,” mentioned the foundation.

This problem is getting serious considering the fact that hundreds of leopard sharks have already died. Unfortunately, this shows, once again, that human activity may endanger and even kill animals. Environmentalists mentioned that more and more sharks are probably going to die. This is their usual pupping season. Because of it, leopard shark specimens are gathering to breed and mate during spring and summer. On their way, they can pass through shallow waterways, which can harbor the toxins.

Rainy seasons can increase the level of toxins found in these waters. As these toxins are washed out from the ground into the bay, they eventually make their way into fish. As these can get eaten by the sharks, they too are affected and infected. Sharks, like any other animals species, are important for the food chain, and this high die-off could bring unexpected consequences.

Sharks aren’t the only victims as other marine animals have washed up dead in San Francisco Bay as well. These included some manta rays and halibuts. The dead marine animals washed up in the San Francisco Bay area despite the fact that its waters are clean. Specialists named human-made lagoons, sloughs, and the saltwater marshes as the most likely source of the infection.

Image Source: Wikimedia

NASA Released A Video Of Cassini’s First Dive

casini first dive saturn

NASA released a video of Cassini’s first dive in between Saturn and its rings.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration released a new video of Cassini. The spacecraft is on a mission called the “Grand Finale”. It will see the space probe take one final dive and crash into Saturn.

The hour long video of Cassini gives the audience a look at the probe’s point of view as it takes its first dive. This was number one out of 22 between the rings of Saturn and the planet itself. During this initial phase of what will be the swan song for the Cassini probe, it captured images of the polar vortex on the planet’s north side. It also recorded a jet stream with a hexagonal shape in the surrounding area.

Cassini’s First Dive of its Swan Song

After nearly 20 years of service, Cassini embarked on its one last adventure. The orbiter was launched in October 1997 with the lander named Huygens. The project marked the collaborative effort between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian space agency.
Huygens separated from Cassini in December 2004 and headed for Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. This was the first landing of a man-made object in the outer reaches of the solar system. Cassini has continued to operate independently of Huygens for more than a decade.
Now that its fuel is running out, mission controllers have directed Cassini into the first dive of many that will eventually take the spacecraft directly into the atmosphere of Saturn. This is to avoid risking the biological contamination of a Saturnian moon that could occur if Cassini inadvertently landed on one of them. Both Titan and Enceladus may potentially be capable of supporting life forms of their own.Cassini will be periodically diving in the space between the atmosphere and rings of Saturn up until September. Then, it will take the final plunge that will send it hurtling into the planet’s atmosphere in one final blaze of glory.

Image Source: JPL/NASA

Cassini Spacecraft Reports A Success As It Shoots Through Saturn’s Rings

cassini spacecraft

The Cassini spacecraft, launched towards Saturn in 1997, reported its first successful dive through Saturn’s rings.

The Cassini spacecraft, launched towards Saturn in 1997, is considered one of the most successful space exploration missions in NASA’s history. The last two decades have provided huge amounts of data and images. As the mission approaches its final days, it promises to deliver even greater drama.

The Cassini Spacecraft Reported One Dive Down, 21 to Go

Cassini has been exploring Saturn’s rings, its moons, and the planet itself for nearly two decades. The final journey for the aging spacecraft will be certainly its most exciting. Twenty-two diving maneuvers have been planned and plotted by NASA engineers. These dives will take the craft closer to the planet than ever before.

They will do so as Cassini dips between its outer atmosphere and its innermost rings.The first maneuver has been completed, and scientists are waiting to see the data. This takes about twenty hours to reach Earth from the spacecraft.

With each succeeding dive, NASA hopes to gain more information about the nature of Saturn’s rings. They will also try to establish what makes up the outer atmosphere of the planet. In the end, they’ll also take a look at what exists at its core.

These dives, however, are not without risk. Scientists studying Saturn exhausted a great deal of effort over the last few decades measuring and examining the planet’s majestic ring system. Most of their conclusions lead them to believe there is a gap of around 1,200-miles between the interior ring and the outer edge of Saturn’s atmosphere.

They are aiming for that space with each dive, hoping to gather data from both phenomena. Saturn’s rings are composed of ice, rock, and other materials held by the gas giant’s gravity. There is some fear that Cassini might strike a stray piece during the maneuvers. But the engineers are monitoring it as closely as they can to avoid potential catastrophe.

If all goes according to plan, the sturdy craft will make one final dive into the planet itself on September 15.

Image Source: Wikimedia

AeroMobil’s First Flying Car Will Allegedly Be Running In The 2020s

aeromobil first flying car

AeroMobil will be looking to release its first flying car sometime in the 2020s.

Ever since the first days of science fiction, futurists have imagined flying cars. From Flash Gordon to the Jetsons, many envisioned them to be right around the corner of history. Now, these may actually be here, as a Slovakian startup company has committed to bringing their first flying car design to the market as early as 2020.

Is The First Flying Car Finally Here?

At the international car premiere show, Top Marques Monaco, Slovakian based Aeromobil showed off the prototype of their new design. Sleek and sporty, it can convert from land mode to flight mode in less than three minutes. When on the ground, it has a top speed of one hundred miles per hour. It also has a range of over 450 miles. In the air, it can travel at over 220 miles per hour with close to the same range. This is estimated at around 465 miles. There will only be 500 of the vehicles made in the initial design. These are expected to sell for between $1.3 and $1.6 million.The vehicle is only approved to operate in Europe, and owners will be required to possess a pilot’s license. A runway will be necessary for all takeoffs and landings. Currently, the company is moving forward with getting the first flying car approved for use in the United States. Once that happens, they plan on introducing it in China.

What makes this car different from designs being pursued by companies like Uber and Zee.Aero is that it uses a runway. The others are looking at VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) designs. They would only require landing pads, or maybe no more than a driveway.

“The infrastructure and nature of today’s society simply doesn’t leave much space for flying cars, unfortunately.” This is according to Juraj Vaculik, the AeroMobil CEO.
Image Source: Flickr

Florida Just Released Its Own Mosquitoes In The Fight Against Zika

florida's own mosquitos

Earlier this week, Florida released its own mosquitoes to try and reduce the local population numbers.


Earlier this week, Florida took a new step in its fight against the Zika virus. State officials released its own mosquitoes to try and reduce the local population numbers. These recently liberated specimens were specifically infected with a bacteria which should help stop the spreading of the species.

The mosquito release was carried out by Florida Keys Mosquito Control District authorities. They freed 20,000 male specimens on Stock Island. Through this somewhat unusual method, the state officials will be trying to fight off both Zika as well as other diseases that manifest in the area.

Florida’s Own Mosquitoes Are Carriers Of The Wolbachia Bacteria

Florida’s own mosquitoes were bred by MosquitoMate. This is a Kentucky-based company which specializes in non-genetically modified, natural mosquito solutions. The Stock Island release is a trial test as specialists will be looking at it in order to determine the method’s efficiency and applicability.

All the study specimens are male and have been specifically exposed to the Wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacterium. The plan is to let them loose to mate with Aedes aegypti female mosquitoes. This species is known for being the main carrier of the Zika virus.

As the two species mate, the resulting eggs should not hatch. Even if they do, the ensuing mosquitoes will reportedly not reach adulthood. As such, the mosquito population should be kept at a low as the species stops excessively reproducing.

The Tuesday release is just the first stage in the trial. This will be carried out over a period of three months. State officials will be releasing a new batch twice every week. They will continue doing so until the total liberation of 40,000 additional male specimens.

Authorities hope that this trial will help put a stop to Zika transmissions. Also, it can be helpful in halting the spread of other dangerous diseases as well, as mosquitos are known for carrying various viruses.

“A successful trial with the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes could mean the availability of a new tool in the fight against the Aedes aegypti mosquito […] for the Mosquito Control Districts around the country.” This is according to Executive Director, Andrea Leal.

Image Source: Flickr

New Study Claims That Bed Bugs Are Becoming More Resistant

bed bugs

A new study went to discover the reasons why bed bugs are becoming harder to kill.

A new study went to discover the reasons why bed bugs are becoming harder to kill. According to this research, these have seemingly become more resistant to most common insecticides used to terminate them.

Research results were released earlier this week in The Journal of Economic Entomology. The study team found bed bugs have started showing a lower susceptibility to most pesticides, especially to the two most common ones. These latter are known to contain bifenthrin and chlorfenapyr.

This Is The First Study To Point Out The Increased Pesticide Resistance Of The Bed Bugs

In order to confirm their theory, the research team tested 10 bedbug species. These were collected from across several states including Virginia, Tennessee, New Jersey, and Ohio. They were also gathered from Indiana and Washington DC. Then, the researchers subjected the collected specimens to a pesticide treatment.

Also, the team used a strain known to be susceptible to these insecticides as a control group. As such, they compared the impact of bifenthrin and chlorfenapyr on the two groups. The study went to verify how long it took before their effects started to kick in.

As it is, research noted that killing the collected specimens required a higher concentration of insecticides when compared to the control group. The bugs in this latter group died three days after being exposed to bifenthrin. It also took seven days before their exposure to chlorfenapyr killed them.

However, both these time frames were stretched out in the case of the 10 test populations. These took longer to perish after being exposed to the same quantity of such pesticides. Nonetheless, the research team pointed out as follows.

These ‘pesky insects’ are not unstoppable. “[…], both bifenthrin and chlorfenapyr should be integrated with other methods used for bed bug elimination in order to preserve their efficiency in the long term.”

Image Source: Wikimedia