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A.I. program pass first round of novel writing contest



We’ve already seen robots that paint pictures and compose songs, so it only stands to reason that someone would attempt to get one to write a novel.

In this case, the exercise was a team effort between humans and an artificial intelligence (A.I.) program in an attempt to win Japan’s Nikkei Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award.

No, the human-assisted A.I. didn’t win the prize, but it came close — it passed the contest’s initial screening phase.

The human part of the team, led by Hitoshi Matsubara, a professor at Future University Hakodate, came up with the general framing of the story, including plot (the most important part), and the gender of the characters, according to the The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Afterwards, the A.I. cobbled the short novel together by selecting sentences created by the team of humans. So, in this case, the A.I. program needed quite a bit of help from humans to get anywhere close to a real novel.

But even these rudimentary steps are notable given that many have assumed that art — separate and apart from the heavy lifting of robotic auto factories and automated number crunching of data science — would somehow be immune from the rise of A.I. It now appears no sector of human endeavor will be spared the advances inherent in A.I.


Celebrated novelist Hugh Howey (author of Wool, which is set to become a movie) has…
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Digital Revolution and Repression in Myanmar and Thailand

Activists have also proactively published social media content in multiple languages using the hashtags #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar and #WhatsHappeningInThailand to boost coverage of events on the ground.



By Karen Lee

Following the February 1 coup, Myanmar’s netizens became the latest to join the #MilkTeaAlliance, an online collective of pro-democracy youth across Asia.

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How will oil prices shape the Covid-19 recovery in emerging markets?



How will oil prices shape the Covid-19 recovery in emerging markets?

– After falling significantly in 2020, oil prices have returned to pre-pandemic levels
– The rise has been driven by OPEC+ production cuts and an improving economic climate
– Higher prices are likely to support a rebound in oil-producing emerging markets
– Further virus outbreaks or increased production would pose challenges to price stability

A combination of continued production cuts and an increase in economic activity has prompted oil prices to return to pre-pandemic levels – a factor that will be crucial to the recovery of major oil-producing countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Brent crude prices rose above $60 a barrel in early February, the first time they had exceeded pre-Covid-19 values. They have since continued to rise, going above $66 a barrel on February 24.

The ongoing increase in oil prices, which have soared by 75% since November and around 26% since the beginning of the year, marks a dramatic change from last year.

Following the closure of many national borders and the implementation of travel-related restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, demand for oil slumped globally.

In the wake of the Saudi-Russia price war in early 2020, Brent crude prices fell from around $60 a barrel in February that year to two-decade lows of $20 a barrel in late April, as supply increased and demand plummeted. The value of WTI crude – the main benchmark for oil in the US – fell to record lows of around $40 a barrel last year on the back of a lack of storage space.


While global demand for oil remains low, one factor credited with reversing the trend is the decision to make significant cuts to oil production, which subsequently tightened global supplies.

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