Mind reading AI 🤯, psychedelics linked to positive mood 🌈 and London housing declines 🏘️!


Mind-reading AI turns thoughts into words using a brain implant

An artificial intelligence can accurately translate thoughts into sentences, at least for a limited vocabulary of 250 words. Across four women, the AI’s best performance was an average translation error rate of 3 per cent. The team fed this brain activity to a neural network algorithm, training it to identify regularly occurring patterns that could be linked to repeated aspects of speech, such as vowels or consonants. “The network clearly is learning facts about which words go together, and not just which neural activity maps to which words.”

Saudi Arabia may be spying on its citizens via US mobile networks

Data shared by a whistleblower suggests Saudi Arabia may be using a weakness in mobile telecom networks to track its citizens in the US. The data shows that over a four-month period, Saudi Arabia’s three biggest mobile phone companies sent 2.3 million requests for Provider Subscriber Information (PSI). Normally, that data is used to help foreign operators register roaming charges, but the high volume of requests could also give the Saudi telecoms enough info to track users within hundreds of meters of accuracy.


People with low psychological well-being more likely to report positive outcomes after psychedelic use

Recreational users of psychedelic drugs with low psychological well-being are more likely than those with normal well-being to experience a positive mood change after taking LSD, psilocybin, or MDMA, according to new research. “Interestingly, when comparing the ‘clinical’ group to the ‘healthy’ group, the clinical group was more likely to experience a positive mood change.” The researchers found that a personality trait was also predictive of an individual’s response to psychedelic drugs.

Antarctic Fish Is a Blood Doping Champion

Many animals dope naturally: pigs, marine fish and diving seals can boost their blood oxygen levels by 40 to 60 percent in physically demanding situations. Now a study shows that an Antarctic fish called the bald notothen can ramp up its levels by more than 200 percent to pursue an active life in frigid waters. Red Blood Cell levels were at 9 percent in the resting animals but 27 percent in the exercised ones, leading to a 207 percent spike in the latter’s blood oxygen. “No [other] fish we’ve seen can more than double their RBCs or drop their numbers to such a low level when resting.”


London Landlords Dump Holiday Lets on Residential Market, Pushing Down Rents

Short-term rental properties offered on websites like Airbnb Inc. are being dumped on London’s normal letting market as the coronavirus outbreak shuts out tourists, pushing down the capital’s rents. The amount of cuts was more pronounced in the richest boroughs, with 5.4% of Kensington and Chelsea rentals seeing such declines and a similar proportion in Westminster. Landlords no longer being able to pay their mortgage “could contribute to excess selling in the market, pushing prices down.”

Macy’s, Kohl’s to furlough employees as virus crisis keeps stores shut

Department store operators Macy’s Inc (M.N) and Kohl’s Corp (KSS.N) said they would furlough thousands of employees as U.S. retailers keep their stores shut to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Shares of Kohl’s, which had about 122,000 employees in 2019, closed down nearly 9%. Kohl’s also said it would suspend its share repurchase program, evaluate its dividend plan and draw down $1 billion from an existing credit line. Macy’s which has 130,000 employees stock ended nearly 3% lower.


Van Gogh painting stolen from Dutch museum closed by coronavirus

Thieves stole a painting by Dutch master Vincent Van Gogh early on Monday from the Netherlands’ Singer Laren Museum, which is currently closed to the public because of the coronavirus. The painting depicts a woman in a garden with red-flowered bushes and with a church in the background, as “an image of silence, of reflection and of tranquillity, which undoubtedly offered him comfort and inspiration”. The museum has appealed for the swift return of the painting, which has been added to Interpol’s list of stolen artworks.

MI5: Ken McCallum appointed new boss

Ken McCallum has been appointed the new director general of MI5. Mr McCallum led counter terrorism investigations during the London 2012 Olympic Games and MI5’s response to the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in 2018. The challenge of terrorism has dominated the security service’s work but that threat is now diversifying. There is concern that threats from hostile states, notably Russia, require more attention, with not just old-fashioned espionage but also disinformation and cyber-attacks.

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