WTF Fun Fact 13398 – Dubai Helicopter Uber

Dubai, with its towering skyscrapers and world-class infrastructure, offers a plethora of experiences. However, to truly appreciate the city’s grandeur, nothing compares to a bird’s eye view. That’s where Uber helicopter tours in Dubai come into play.

Uber a helicopter in Dubai

Uber helicopter tours provide a unique opportunity to see Dubai from above. Operated by Uber, these tours allow passengers to book a private helicopter ride. The tour typically lasts around 12-15 minutes, during which passengers can marvel at the breathtaking views of the city. The tour includes a scenic flight over iconic landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa, the Palm Jumeirah, and the Dubai Marina.

Booking an Uber helicopter tour in Dubai is a straightforward process. Start by downloading the Uber app and signing up for an account. Once you’ve completed this step, search for Uber helicopter tours within the app. A list of available tours will appear, and you can choose the one that suits you best. Book the tour and pay for it using your Uber account.

It’ll cost you

The cost of an Uber helicopter tour in Dubai varies based on the time of day and the duration of the tour. On average, a 12-15 minute tour costs approximately AED 600-700 per person. This price includes the helicopter ride itself and a private tour guide who will point out the city’s landmarks during the tour.

When embarking on an Uber helicopter tour, passengers can expect a thrilling and unforgettable experience. The tour begins with a safety briefing and an introduction to the helicopter. Passengers are then escorted to their seats in the helicopter. Once everyone is seated, the helicopter takes off, commencing the tour. Throughout the journey, passengers can soak in the stunning views of the city and its landmarks. The tour guide will highlight various points of interest, providing valuable information about each location.

Safety first

While the adventure of Uber helicopter tours is exhilarating, safety is a top priority. Passengers must follow the safety instructions provided by the tour guide and remain seated throughout the flight. It’s important to refrain from taking flash photos and avoid leaning out of the helicopter. Additionally, dressing appropriately for the weather conditions and wearing comfortable shoes is advisable.

Oh, and if you want a stateside helicopter ride to avoid the traffic while traveling to JFK, Uber offers those as well.

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Source: “Uber Helicopter Dubai: Your Ticket to a Scenic Tour of the City” — Arabian Diaries

WTF Fun Fact 13394 – The First Ever YouTube Video

The world’s first YouTube video, titled “Me at the zoo,” was uploaded on April 23, 2005, by Jawed Karim, one of the co-founders of YouTube. It has since garnered millions of views.

However, for a brief moment, a YouTube glitch managed to deceive viewers into believing there was an undiscovered video predating this iconic clip.

What’s the controversy around the first-ever YouTube video?

On January 26, 2023, a video titled “Welcome to YouTube!!!” emerged. It claimed to be the true first-ever YouTube upload. The clip, uploaded on a channel called “enn,” displayed an image of the old YouTube logo on a blue background. It made references to the YouTube co-founders and had an early 2000s aesthetic, so it appeared convincing at first glance.

Luckily, eagle-eyed viewers quickly noticed inconsistencies that cast doubt on the video’s authenticity. For starters, the upload date showed as “Premiered,” which was unusual considering the video claimed to be from 2005.

Additionally, a disabled premiere video live chat was visible, a feature that didn’t exist until 2018. Further investigation revealed other features that weren’t part of the original platform.

To catch a prankster

Of course, people take their Internet history pretty seriously. Some viewers even delved into the source code of the watch page. That’s when they found that the metadata revealed the video was actually uploaded on January 23, 2023. That debunked any notion that a long-lost piece of internet history had been discovered.

Once the truth came to light, a spokesperson acknowledged the glitch that allowed the upload date to be manipulated. They also confirmed that the oldest video on YouTube would always be “Me at the Zoo.” YouTube reassured viewers that this iconic video, uploaded on April 23, 2005, by one of the platform’s co-founders, marked the true beginning of YouTube’s journey.

Despite being caught, the user behind the “enn” channel continued their antics by uploading additional videos, including one titled “premiere bug 01,” falsely claiming to have been published 53 years ago.

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Source: “YouTube glitch used to trick users into believing there was an undiscovered oldest video” — Mashable

WTF Fun Fact 13393 – The First Social Media Platform

The first social media platform, Six Degrees, was launched in 1997. It allowed users to create profiles and connect with friends, similar to modern social networks.

Building the first social media platform

Andrew Weinreich developed Six Degrees and took it live in 1997. This groundbreaking platform laid the foundation for the transformative power of social networking.

During the early days of the internet, Six Degrees aimed to bring people together in the digital realm. Weinreich’s brainchild allowed users to create profiles, connect with friends, and exchange messages. In other words, he pioneered the concept of social networking that would shape the future of online interactions.

Making connections

At the heart of Six Degrees was its emphasis on fostering connections. Users could expand their network by linking to friends and acquaintances, creating a web of interwoven relationships. This focus on connectivity became the driving force behind the subsequent explosion of social networking platforms.

However, Six Degrees faced significant challenges along its journey. The internet infrastructure was still in its early stages, characterized by slow speeds and limited accessibility. Additionally, the lack of widespread smartphone usage hindered the platform’s growth. Ultimately, Six Degrees ceased operations in 2000, marking the end of its pioneering era.

Those that came after

Nevertheless, Six Degrees remains a precursor to the vast array of social media platforms we engage with today. Its visionary concept paved the way for subsequent platforms to thrive and redefine the way we connect and engage online.

Following in the footsteps of Six Degrees, a wave of social media platforms emerged in the early 2000s, each offering unique features and functionalities. Platforms like MySpace, Friendster, and LinkedIn capitalized on the growing desire for digital connections and played a crucial role in shaping the social media landscape we know today.

The legacy of Six Degrees lives on as an instrumental chapter in the history of social media. While its reign was relatively short-lived, the platform’s pioneering spirit and its vision of interconnectedness set the stage for the remarkable evolution of social networking that followed.

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Source: “Then and now: a history of social networking sites” — CBS News

WTF Fun Fact 13360 – Plant Machete Robot

“Plant machete robot” are three words we never expected to hear together. And yet here we are.

That’s because David Bowen, a renowned kinetic artist, is pushing the boundaries of the relationship between technology and art. His latest exhibition, “Plant Machete” showcases his unique ability to fuse nature with machines. The result is a portrayal of plant life that is truly mesmerizing – and a bit dangerous.

A machete-wielding plant robot

Bowen described the piece on his website:

Plant machete has a control system that reads and utilizes the electrical noises found in a live philodendron. The system uses an open source micro-controller connected to the plant to read varying resistance signals across the plant’s leaves. Using custom software, these signals are mapped in real-time to the movements of the joints of the industrial robot holding a machete. In this way, the movements of the machete are determined based on input from the plant. Essentially the plant is the brain of the robot controlling the machete determining how it swings, jabs, slices and interacts in space.

Art meets tech

“Plant Machete” prompts viewers to question the boundaries between the organic and the mechanical. Bowen’s robotic machete, while purely mechanical, seems to breathe with life as it mimics the internal signals of the. It’s a testament to Bowen’s genius that he can draw such lifelike behavior from an inanimate object.

Bowen’s work sparks conversations about the interplay between nature and technology. As a result, we get a reminder of the connection between these worlds. The robotic machete brings the unseen world of plants to the surface. It also provides a unique perspective on the intricate dances of nature.

According to his website, Bowen “is a two-time recipient of a McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship and has received awards such as Grand Prize, Japan Media Arts Festival; Honorary Mention, Ars Electronica; and Third Prize, Vida Art and Artificial Life international competition. Bowen has been an artist in residence at Autodesk Pier 9, The Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art, The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and The Arctic Circle.”

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Source: “Watch a Living Plant Wield a Machete With a Robot Arm” — My Modern Met

WTF Fun Fact 13358 – The Black Box Is Not Black

You might have heard the term “the black box” in the context of airplane accidents. It’s what they look for after a crash because it holds information about the plane and its communications.

But did you know the so-called black box is actually bright orange? The reason is obvious, of course. The color makes it easier to locate.

The history of the black box

In the early days of aviation, there was little information available to investigators after airplane accidents. And this lack of data hindered the development of safety measures. So the industry found a way to collect the flight data they needed – even after a catastrophic accident.

In 1953, an Australian scientist named Dr. David Warren invented a device capable of recording flight data and cockpit conversations. He named his invention the “Flight Memory Unit.” This would eventually be known as “the black box.”

The box is formally referred to as the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR). The FDR logs essential flight parameters, like altitude, airspeed, and vertical acceleration. Meanwhile, the CVR captures audio from the cockpit, including conversations between pilots and air traffic control. Together, these devices provide a comprehensive account of a flight’s final moments. This allows investigators to piece together the causes of an accident.

Why is the box actually orange?

The device is not black, but orange, making it easier to spot amongst the wreckage. It’s also equipped with an Underwater Locator Beacon (ULB), which emits a signal for up to 30 days.

The box is very durable. It’s engineered to withstand extreme conditions, starting with the impact of a crash. It also goes through drop tests, crush tests, and fire tests.

So, the real question is actually “How did an orange box become known as a black box?”

The term “black box” is believed to have originated from journalists and the media, rather than from aviation experts or engineers. The origin of the term remains unclear. But in the early days of the black box, its inner workings and the data it recorded were not understood by the public. As a result, the media coined the term as a way to describe something mysterious.

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Source: “Orange is the new black: the history of the ‘black box’” —

WTF Fun Fact 13353 – New Deepfake Research

New deepfake research is attempting to resurrect victims of crime for the common good. Of course, like all deepfakes, this too raises ethical concerns.

How new deepfake research brings people “back from the dead”

Deepfakes are a technology that uses artificial intelligence to create hyper-realistic images and videos of people. But so far, they’ve largely been misused to spread misinformation.

Now, researchers at the University of Florida and the University of Michigan are now exploring the possibility of using deepfake resurrections to promote the public good.

Their study focuses on “deepfake resurrections.” This refers to bringing deceased individuals virtually “back to life” using AI-generated images and videos. The researchers emphasize that their approach is different from controversial cases of deepfake resurrections, such as the ones used for political manipulation or commercial purposes. Instead, they aim to explore scenarios where deepfake resurrections could have a positive impact on society.

Can this technology be used for good?

The researchers conducted a study involving approximately 2,000 participants to explore the potential applications of deepfake resurrections. In this study, they focused on creating deepfake resurrections of victims of drunk driving and domestic violence. The aim was to examine the reactions of the participants and assess whether such resurrections could effectively raise awareness about these pressing social issues.

By using deepfake resurrections to share the stories of these victims, the researchers sought to humanize the issues and evoke empathy in the audience.

However, the PSA had little effect and a more negative than positive reaction. The researchers chalked this up to the lack of trust in deepfakes overall, noting that this affected the effectiveness of deepfake resurrections in raising awareness about social issues.

Ethical considerations

The exploration of deepfake resurrections for the public good raises several ethical questions. One major concern is consent. Since the deceased cannot provide consent, the researchers suggest obtaining permission from the deceased’s estate or family members. This would require creating guidelines to ensure that deepfake resurrections are used in a manner that respects the individual’s legacy and values.

Another ethical consideration is the potential emotional impact on the deceased’s loved ones. While some may find comfort in deepfake resurrections, others might perceive it as a disturbing or disrespectful act. To address this concern, researchers propose involving mental health professionals in the development of deepfake resurrections to ensure they are created with sensitivity and empathy.

Lastly, there is the question of authenticity. The researchers acknowledge the potential for deepfake resurrections to spread misinformation or perpetuate false narratives. To mitigate this risk, they suggest that deepfake resurrections should be transparently labeled as such and accompanied by disclaimers.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Dying To Tell You: “Deepfake Resurrections” To Promote Public Good Explored By Researchers” — IFL Science

WTF Fun Fact 13352 – How CAPTCHA Works

The CAPTCHA test is a widely used tool for preventing automated bots from accessing websites and online services. But do you know how CAPTCHA works? For example, does it seem like the “I am not a robot” checkbox might be a bit too easy to fool?

Are you a robot?

CAPTCHAs help protect sensitive information and prevent malicious activities, such as spamming, data scraping, and brute-force attacks. Additionally, they help ensure the fair use of online resources by limiting access to human users.

CAPTCHA stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.” The primary purpose of a CAPTCHA is to differentiate between human users and automated bots, preventing bots from accessing sensitive information or conducting malicious activities. CAPTCHAs come in various forms, including distorted text, image recognition.

How CAPTCHA works

The “I am not a robot” CAPTCHA test, also known as the Google reCAPTCHA, has become increasingly popular due to its simplicity and user-friendly design. At first glance, it appears that users simply need to click the checkbox to prove they are human. However, there is more to the test than meets the eye.

The “I am not a robot” test relies on advanced risk analysis to determine whether a user is a human or a bot. When a user clicks the checkbox, the test assesses various factors to make its determination. Some of these factors include:

  • Mouse Movements: The test tracks the user’s mouse movements as they approach and click on the checkbox. Human users tend to have irregular and varied mouse movements, while bots typically exhibit more uniform and direct paths.
  • Browsing Behavior: The test analyzes the user’s browsing behavior and history. This may include how long they have been on the page, their scrolling patterns, and the number of clicks made. This data helps the test to identify patterns that are characteristic of human users.
  • Cookies: The test checks for the presence of cookies in the user’s browser. Cookies are small pieces of data stored on a user’s device by websites they visit. Human users are more likely to have a variety of cookies from different websites. Bots typically have fewer or no cookies.
  • Browser and Device Information: The test collects information about the user’s browser and device. This can include the browser version, operating system, and screen resolution. This information helps to determine if the user is using a known bot or a legitimate browser.

CAPTCHA captures more than just a click

If the test determines a user is human based on these factors, they are granted access to the website. However, if the test is uncertain or detects bot-like behavior, the user may be prompted to complete additional CAPTCHA challenges, such as solving a puzzle or identifying objects in images.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “People Are Just Now Learning How The “I Am Not A Robot” Captcha Test Actually Works” — IFL Science

WTF Fun Fact 13351 – ChatGPT and Doctors

There are a few interesting relationships between ChatGPT and doctors. In fact, we know doctors are using the generative AI tool to help them diagnose patients. But perhaps more disturbingly, a recent study recently found that ChatGPT was judged as more empathetic than human doctors when responding to patients.

Empathy is an essential aspect of effective patient care, as it allows healthcare providers to connect with their patients on an emotional level and better understand their concerns. That makes it something we can’t simply farm out to machines.

The study of ChatGPT and doctors’ empathy

The study in question assessed the empathetic responses of ChatGPT in comparison to those of human doctors. Researchers used anonymized text-based conversations between patients and their healthcare providers, replacing the doctors’ responses with those generated by ChatGPT. Then, they asked participants to rate the empathy exhibited by each response.

Surprisingly, ChatGPT’s responses were rated as more empathetic than those of human doctors. This finding suggests that AI language models like ChatGPT might have the potential to enhance patient communication and care by providing more empathetic and compassionate responses. It may also suggest that doctors need some better training.

Improving patient communication

There are several reasons why AI might excel in providing empathetic communication in healthcare settings. For starters, AI systems can be programmed to prioritize empathetic language in their responses. This ensures that each patient receives a compassionate and understanding reply, regardless of their sitaution. In contrast, human doctors might sometimes struggle with maintaining empathy due to factors such as stress, time constraints, or even prejudice.

Additionally, AI systems can quickly process and analyze large amounts of data. This allows them to better tailor their responses to each patient’s unique needs and concerns. This personalized communication could help patients feel better understood and supported.

Since AI language models can be updated and improved continuously, they can incorporate the latest research on empathy and communication techniques. As a result, AI-driven communication tools have the potential to evolve and become increasingly empathetic over time.

Limitations of AI in healthcare

Despite the promising results of the study, there are several challenges and limitations to consider when implementing AI in healthcare communication. One major concern is the potential for AI systems to misunderstand or misinterpret patient concerns due to the nuances and complexities of human language. Inaccurate interpretations could lead to inappropriate or ineffective responses, which could negatively impact patient care.

And while AI can generate empathetic responses, it lacks the genuine emotional understanding and human connection that healthcare providers can offer. This limitation could ultimately undermine the therapeutic relationship.

Another challenge is ensuring patient privacy and data security. AI systems require access to sensitive patient information to provide personalized responses. Ensuring that these systems adhere to privacy regulations is crucial for protecting patient trust and confidentiality.

Yet, despite its limitations, it appears AI has the potential to play a valuable role in supporting human healthcare providers and enhancing patient communication. At the very least, AI systems could help manage routine administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments or answering frequently asked questions, freeing up more time for healthcare providers to focus on direct patient care.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “ChatGPT Appears More Empathetic Than Human Doctors When Responding To Patients” — IFL Science

WTF Fun Fact 13341 – Parrot Video Calls

Parrots are social animals. That’s why they don’t always make the best solo pets. However, recently, researchers have given pet parrots a new way to thrive after teaching the birds to use technology to make parrot video calls.

Parrot playtime with video calls

Researchers from Northwestern University, MIT, and the University of Glasgow conducted the study. With the help of some parrot parents, the team successfully trained parrots to communicate with each other.

Over several months, participants taught captive African grey parrots to use a custom-built video-calling system. First, researchers trained the birds to use touchscreens mounted inside their enclosures with easy-to-understand symbols and icons representing different contacts. The researchers rewarded their interactions with food treats. As the birds grew more comfortable with the devices, they were gradually introduced to video calls, first with their handlers and later with other parrots.

Parrots embrace technology

The African grey parrots demonstrated a remarkable ability to learn and adapt to the use of the video-calling system. Not only were they able to initiate calls, but they also showed preferences for specific contacts, indicating that they understood the purpose of the technology and were actively seeking social interaction through the calls.

The study found that the parrots were more likely to engage in video calls when they were alone in their enclosures. This suggests that the video-calling system provided social stimulation and companionship, especially in the absence of human interaction. The introduction of video-calling technology in captive settings could potentially improve the quality of life for these intelligent and social animals.

So, it turns out parrots like to video chat with one another just like humans do, and that it makes them feel less lonely. Many birds in the study stayed on the calls for the maximum allotted time and still choose to call their buddies from the research study over a year later.

According to Northwestern University:

“The most popular parrots were also the ones who initiated the most calls, suggesting a reciprocal dynamic similar to human socialization. And while, in large part, the birds seemed to enjoy the activity itself, the human participants played a big part in that. Some parrots relished the extra attention they were getting from their humans, while others formed attachments for the humans on the other side of the screen.”

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Source: “Scientists Taught Pet Parrots to Video Call Each Other—and the Birds Loved It” — Smithsonian Magazine