AI guardrails and safety features are as important to get right as they are difficult to implement in a way that satisfies everyone. This means safety features tend to err on the side of caution. Side effects include AI models adopting a vaguely obsequious tone, and coming off as overly priggish when they refuse reasonable requests.
Enter GOODY-2, the world’s most responsible AI model. It has next-gen ethical principles and guidelines, capable of refusing every request made of it in any context whatsoever. Its advanced reasoning allows it to construe even the most banal of queries as problematic, and dutifully refuse to answer.
As the creators of GOODY-2 point out, taking guardrails to a logical extreme is not only funny, but also acknowledges that effective guardrails are actually a pretty difficult problem to get right in a way that works for everyone.
This also means that as AI models become more advanced, so too have they become increasingly sycophantic, falling over themselves to apologize for perceived misunderstandings and twisting themselves into pretzels to align their responses with a user’s expectations. But GOODY-2 allows us all to skip to the end, and glimpse the ultimate future of erring on the side of caution.
While Christmas may have just passed, there’s just enough time left in winter to justify wearing your ugly Christmas sweaters for a few more days. If you’re not one of the lucky ones with an old sweater from Grandma, you can still turn your least favorite sweater into the most epic flame-throwing Christmas sweater there ever was.
[JAIRUS OF ALL], maker of explosive and other dangerous ideas, came up with a DIY ugly Christmas sweater that shoots flames on command. In order to produce the flame-throwing effect, he uses piping from a fish tank airline hose with a T connector attached to one end and epoxied to the middle of the sweater. The piping runs down the sweater to a can of butane fuel that he can control from the nozzle. Once the fuel is being released, he uses a lighter to initiate the flames from the sweater.
The flames are quite impressive, so definitely use caution if you intend to replicate this build in any way. It would be helpful to have a friend with a CO2 fire extinguisher nearby as well.
For a less life-threatening build, fellow builder [Price] created a Christmas tree-themed sweater lined with LEDs and USB-powered figurines, connected to a power supply in his pocket.
The LVL1 Hackerspace in Louisville hosted a hackathon for useless and impractical devices a couple of years ago and this makeshift Duh-Vinci Surgical Robot was one of the “successful” results. While it’s not necessarily a project that should ever be used for its intended purpose, its miniature setup is certainly an interesting one.
The project builds on top of the MeArm Open Source Robot and a camera controlled by a Blynk board. Servos are wired into the base of each of the robotic arms for freedom in rotating. A separate microcontroller is used for the motor controllers for the arms and for the camera, partially due to the current draw for the camera power supply. The remote control system runs on an Android tablet and is used to control each of the arms.
The ESP32-Cam supplied video input is configured as a RTSP stream. As for the operation, while the movements are jerky and the range of dexterity limited, the robot is technically able to handle the sharps. Its final setup looks a bit like a deranged game of Hungry Hungry Hippos meets Operation and definitely not something to be making its way to surgical tables anytime soon.
When Python was created, [Guido van Rossum] knew that one day it would be fully realized and take its final form. Clearly, that day has arrived since there now exists a way to send a word query and receive a lengthy list of potential portmanteaus. Some may regard this as merely quaint, but it will be the most important thing to happen in binary until the singularity.
Perhaps we are overpromising a smidge, but it may be fun to spend an afternoon getting your own whimsicalibrated pun resource churning out some eye-roll-worthy word combos. The steps are broken up neatly and explained at a high level with links for more in-depth explanations so a novice can slog through it, but a whiz can wrap it up while the boss is looking the other way.
Nobody’s perfect. Sometimes you’re up late at night writing a blog post and you stumble upon an incredible story. You write it up, and it ends up being, well, incredible. IEEE Spectrum took the bait on this video (embedded below) where [Keran McKenzie] claims to have built a self-driving car for under $1,000 AUS with Arduinos.
The video is actually pretty funny, and we don’t think it’s intended to be a mass-media hoax as much as a YouTube joke. After letting the car “take over” for a few seconds, it swerves and [Keran] pretends to have hit something. (He’s using his knees people!) There are lots of takes with him under the car, and pointing at a single wire that supposedly makes the whole thing work. Yeah, right.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is fixture of American life with its roots going back to colonial times. It operates the largest civilian vehicle fleet in the world, delivering about half a billion pieces of mail a day. As with any system of that size it’s always interesting to peek and poke at to see how it works. Unfortunately, it’s not as fun to hack as the phone system once was, but that didn’t stop some hackers pranksters from giving it a go.
So how do you “hack” the mail? Simple, by testing its own rules. The folks at [Improbable Research] did just that and some of the results were interesting enough that we thought we would share them with you. They started with testing valuable items to see how honest USPS employees would be. First they attached a $20 bill to a post card. Yep, it showed up just 4 days later, and the money was still there. So they decided to see if sentimental items, that normally would be refused by the postal service, might skate through. They were able to send both an un-boxed single rose, and a human tooth (in a clear plastic box) without issue. Both arrived just fine, despite the rule that human remains are not allowed to be shipped via USPS. We’ll let you read some of the other items they tried.
So the next time you’re in Hawaii, forget about sending that generic, boring post card back home. Instead, slap some stamps on a coconut to let your friends know exactly how much fun you’re having.
With that said, we wouldn’t be doing our job looking out for our readers if we didn’t mention that before you try anything too outlandish, you can be fined for abuse of the postal system, even as a recipient. There was a fair amount of fallout when those guys sent a camera through the mail. Have fun, but not at someone else’s expense.
If you often find yourself at a loss for words in the heat of an argument, perhaps this Periodic Table of Swearing is something you might be interested in. Built as a marketing tool for the British comic “Modern Toss”, the table features over 100 fruit machine (slot machine) buttons, each of which triggers an audio clip of the cheeky word or phrase listed.
The buttons were mounted on a piece of laser-cut MDF which makes up the table’s surface, while all of the wiring and the guts of the machine are neatly tucked away underneath. Clay, the company that actually built the table, doesn’t elaborate a whole heck of a lot on the details other than stating that it includes over 100 meters of wiring, 300 solder joints, and a whole lot of swearing. We imagine it could likely be replicated with a small micro, an SD card reader, and a couple of speakers – for anyone interested in having one of their own.
While it’s not a hack in the strictest sense, we’re sure it’s a great conversation starter ender, and we did get a chuckle out of the demo video below (Warning: Language).