Thursday, 24 May 2018
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Odds & Ends
11 Apr
10:34

Odds and Ends
Dateline: Spain

A man who was raised by wolves says life among humans has been disappointing. El PaĂ­s reports 72-year-old Marcos RodrĂ­guez Pantoja—who was called the “Mowgli of Spain” when he was discovered living among animals in the Sierra Morena mountain range in 1965—now lives in a small home in the village of Rante. The house is reportedly not well insulated, and the last winter was particularly harsh for RodrĂ­guez. In response, environmental group Amig@s das Arbores began raising money to insulate his house. While speaking with reporters, he allegedly claimed his last fond memories were of his childhood among the wolves. He also said he was less affected by the cold when he lived on the mountain because he’d developed thick calluses on his feet that protected him. RodrĂ­guez is one of the only documented cases of a human child being raised by animals. At age 19, Spanish authorities reportedly discovered the teenager living in a cave with a family of wolves. According to RodrĂ­guez, at the age of 6 or 7, his father sold him to a farmer who took him into the mountains to assist a goatherd. Soon after, the goatherd died, leaving the young boy alone in the wilderness to fend for himself. RodrĂ­guez claims he was accepted by a mother wolf when she found him playing with her cubs. He says he learned what foods were safe to eat by watching what the wolves ate. Manila, who has written a book based on RodrĂ­guez, says he spoke with witnesses—including the authorities who found him and the nuns who raised him after his return to society—whose stories aligned with RodrĂ­guez’ accounts. Last month, RodrĂ­guez admitted to reporters that living with human beings for the last 50 years has often been a disappointment for him. He said he tried to return to the mountain but that, “it is not what it used to be.”

Dateline: South Korea

A group of leading researchers into artificial intelligence threatened to boycott a South Korean university because of its partnership with weapons manufacturer and their fears that it would develop “autonomous lethal weapons”—killer robots. According to the BBC, over 50 leading AI researchers signed a letter calling for a boycott of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon. The boycott was organized by Toby Walsh, a computer scientist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, who says the KAIST’s newly opened Research Center for the Convergence of National Defense and Artificial Intelligence could be used to develop autonomous weapons. According to Walsh, these possible weapons could take the form of unmanned drones, cruise missiles, autonomous sentry guns or even battlefield robots. In response, KAIST president Shin Sung-chul told ScienceInsider that the university “does not have any intention to engage in development of lethal autonomous weapons systems and killer robots.” He went on to say that they were “significantly aware” of the ethical concerns over AI’s military applications and that the research will actually be used to build efficient logistical systems, unmanned navigation and aviation training systems.

Dateline: Canada

A hotel guest banned for 17 years is welcomed back after he explains how he accidentally knocked out the hotel’s electricity and caused an entire flock of seagulls to defecate inside his room. Last month, Nick Burchill posted an open letter on Facebook addressed to the Fairmont Empress, a Canadian hotel, requesting that the ban placed against him be lifted. The letter details an odd sequence of events that Burchill claims occurred in 2001 and led to the ban. According to his story, Burchill was transporting a suitcase filled with a variety of Brothers’ brand pepperoni and was concerned about its temperature. The room did not have a refrigerator, but the temperature outside was cool and, Burchill wrote, he decided to lay the sausage out and leave the window open. He then went for a walk “for about 4 or 5 hours.” On his return, he found an entire flock of seagulls had entered his room through the open window. His entrance startled the birds, who attempted to escape and ended up damaging much of the room in the process. “The result was a tornado of seagull excrement, feathers, pepperoni chunks and fairly large birds,” he wrote. During the scuffle, he allegedly threw a shoe out the window while attempting to strike one of the birds. The shoe was soiled, and while attempting to dry it with a hair dryer, Burchill claims he was called away by the telephone ringing. According to his story, the dryer, which he’d left running, fell into the full sink and caused a short, knocking out a portion of the hotel’s electricity. “I have matured and I admit responsibility for my actions,” Burchill wrote near the end of his apology letter. Last week the Fairmont Empress tweeted a response to the letter, welcoming him back as a customer and letting him know that the hotel’s rooms have been outfitted with refrigerators “to keep his pepperoni cool.”

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