Hackaday Links: April 28, 2024

Well, it’s official: AI is ruining everything. This isn’t exactly news, but learning that LLMs are apparently used to write scientific papers is a bit alarming, and Andrew Gray, a librarian at University College London, has the receipts. He examined a sample of scientific articles from 2023 looking for certain words known to appear more often in LLM-generated texts, such as “commendable”, “complex” or “meticulous”. Most of the words seem to have a generally positive tone and seem a little fancier than everyday speech; we rarely use “lucid” or “remarkable,” unless you’re trying to sound smart, after all. It found an increase in the frequency of appearance of these and other keywords in 2023 compared to 2022, when ChatGPT was not widely available.

However, it does not always take a statistical analysis of word distribution to detect the fingerprints of an LLM. The article includes sample text copied and pasted directly from the chatbot, without any attempt at editing or even basic proofreading. It is difficult to imagine how not only the authors of the articles, but also the editors and reviewers of the journal, managed not to detect an obvious error message from the chatbot that had been copied. And let’s not even start with the Midjourney-generated diagram of a monstrously well-endowed rat that was used to illustrate a (since retracted) paper on spermatogenesis, complete with absurd captions and captions about nonexistent body parts . This is why we can’t have nice things.

Speaking of beautiful things, did you know that the largest manufacturer of vintage lamps in history is a small company called “Underwriter’s Laboratory”? At least that’s what seems to be the case on eBay, where sellers listing old lamps often claim that the manufacturer is the reputable organization for safety standards. We suppose it makes sense that the only label on an old lamp is the UL listed label and you have no idea what UL is. But in reality, that’s the least of the problems with some of these ads. “Vintage” is a sort of green banker’s lamp with a polarized plug that was clearly made within the last 30 years.

Changing the subject a bit, it’s one thing to know that everything you do online is being tracked, but it’s another to know exactly how much information is flowing between your computer and Hive Mind. That’s why Bert Hubert built Tracker Beeper, and it’s a little terrifying. The tool emits a short beep every time your computer sends a bit of data to a tracker. It started simply monitoring the data transmitted to Google, which was alarming enough. The tool was then modified to include most of the trackers we are likely to encounter on our daily commute, and wow! It looks like a Geiger counter when the tube is saturated by a highly active source. Probably just as dangerous.

Attention, the HOPE conference is being prepared. Hackers on Planet Earth XV will be held July 12-14 on the campus of St. John’s University in Queens, New York. The “Call for Participation” is now open; It’s always great to see a large Hackaday contingent at HOPE, so be sure to get your conference, workshop, or panel proposals together soon.

And finally, what should you do if the FCC comes knocking at your door? This is not just an academic question; The United States Federal Communications Commission does a lot of field investigations, and if you do any type of RF experimentation, there’s a non-zero chance that you’ll produce some sort of spurious emission that gets their attention. Josh from Ham Radio Crash Course released a video that addresses the dreaded hit. TL;DW – come back with a warrant. But it’s more complicated than that, as a hilarious IRL account of one of these encounters illustrates. We won’t spoil the surprise, but suffice it to say that if your home is on the approach to a major international airport, you probably want to be very careful with anything radio related.

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