Highlights of the week of September 18-24

Last time updated
Highlights of the week of September 18-24

Greenpeace has published a curious study, a British artist has announced an ambitious challenge, and writers are preparing to sue ChatGPT.

Europe reduces the length of railroads

This is the conclusion reached by the Wuppertal Institute and the T3 Transportation research centers. According to the latest study, the length of roads in Europe increased by 60% between 1995 and 2020, while the length of railways decreased by 6.5%.

The EU, as well as Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, spent 1.5 trillion euros between 1995 and 2018 to expand their roads, but only 0.93 trillion euros to expand their railways.

In the last four years covered by the study, from 2018 to 2021, the investment gap narrowed from 66% to 34%. This was largely due to the efforts of 7 European countries that invested more in railways than their alliance partners. These countries were Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The rest of the countries continue to spend more on roads.

Activists call this a political decision. They also point out that such an unbalance of forces gradually removes alternatives to the car from people's lives. Environmentalists also point to the carbon footprint that is already visible and contributing to global temperature change.

Authors filed a class action lawsuit against OpenAI

The creators accuse the company of illegally using the works to train some artificial intelligence algorithms. OpenAI is involved in the development of ChatGPT and DALL-E. The former is a well-known neural network capable of writing a diploma or correcting errors in code; the latter is a rather popular graphical neural network, but inferior to MidJourney and Stable Diffusion.

Against ChatGPT has turned writers, including the author of "Game of Thrones" George R. R. Martin. According to the claimants, the company used texts to train AI without permission and consent of copyright holders. Now, the authors are seeking a ban on the use of books without prior agreements, as well as damages.

This is not the first lawsuit against AI. Now society is divided into two camps: those who categorically reject the innovations, and those who support the technology, seeing it as a convenient tool and an aid that can be entrusted with the solution of routine tasks.

A St Davids artist has painted 1,000 portraits

10 years ago, Grahame Hurd-Wood set himself the ambitious task of painting a portrait of every resident in his town. It must be said the artist was lucky: only 1800 people live in St David's, but even so the project took a decade to complete.

It all began when a friend of Grahame's learned of her terminal illness. She asked him to paint her portrait. Grahame made a few sketches but finished after the woman died. Then the idea of capturing every face in the city was born and took form.

Since then, the master has been working diligently, meeting people and offering them as models for his brushes. Grahame now has 1,000 paintings in his collection, but one important face is missing — the face of Grahame himself. He hopes that one day one of the artists will put him on the list of paintings.

In the meantime, the work is buzzing. People who don't live in St David's, but who often visit or have a connection to the town, are now coming to see the famous portraitist.

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We took photos from these sources: Close-up of a railroad switch, rails, sleepers, embankment

Authors: Aleksandr, Kadriia

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