Alibi V.27 No.24 • June 14-20, 2018 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Massachusetts

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a “psychopath” artificial intelligence algorithm by feeding it violent content from Reddit. Newsweek reports MIT scientists trained a “deep learning” algorithm to examine images and produce corresponding captions. As part of the study, the team exclusively exposed the AI—named “Norman,” after the fictional killer from Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho—to extremely violent and antisocial material gathered from an unnamed subreddit. Norman was then shown Rorschach inkblots and asked to produce captions for the images. A standard AI was also shown the images for comparison. Researchers found most of the algorithm's responses to be disturbing. While one image caused the standard AI to write, “A person is holding an umbrella in the air,” Norman said a “man is shot dead in front of his screaming wife.” Another inkblot was interpreted by the standard AI as “a black and white photo of a baseball glove.” Norman said, “Man is murdered by machine gun in broad daylight.” One inkblot was described by the “psycho” AI as, “Man gets pulled into dough machine.” The scientists behind the study say it illustrates how an algorithm's seemingly biased behavior can be largely based on the input it's given. They say more care should be taken when training a learning AI to make certain it has a broader base of knowledge to work from.

Dateline: Australia

A famous crocodile-chasing dog was eaten by a crocodile. According to ABC News in Australia, Pippa—a terrier who received media attention for her habit of chasing and frightening a crocodile that lived on her owner's property for nearly a decade—finally pushed the reptile too far and was killed. Her owner, Kai Hansen, reportedly said the incident was “something that had a high probability of happening sometime.” For years, the small dog would perform the strange feat of barking and running toward a crocodile that lives on her owner's property—named Casey—and scaring it back into the water. In a news segment produced in 2017, Hansen can be see encouraging the dog to pursue the crocodile, leading some social media users to speak out against Hansen, saying the dog's behavior could be blamed on his training. Hansen said it was a part of the dog's nature. “A little terrier should not do things like that. But should I stop her? I don't know, she got away with it for 10 years,” he told reporters.

Dateline: Canada

A couple in British Columbia was denied custody of their child after they spoke in tongues to a stuffed lion in court. According to the Vancouver Sun, the case centered around custody of the couple's child. The couple turned down legal aid, telling witnesses that “their lawyer Jesus Christ” would be asking questions “through the voice of the parent.” During the hearing, the couple reportedly spoke in tongues to a stuffed lion, which they claimed was giving them direct advice from God. Their child had been removed from their home by the state when concerns were raised about mental health and violence in the home. The woman reportedly told a social worker that after discovering she was pregnant, her husband sometimes choked her. She claimed that they would “role play” sins and that he once tied her hands and taped her mouth shut. She also said her husband was raised in a cult and believes sexual activity between children should be encouraged. When asked about these claims by the police, she denied ever having made them. After their daughter was born, the parents allegedly refused all tests and medical procedures, including vaccinations. Due to complaints, the country's Ministry of Children and Family Development was monitoring the family, but the couple refused to cooperate with court-ordered parental capacity assessments and the child was removed from the home. After the hearing, the judge ruled in favor of the ministry. The parents appealed the decision, claiming it infringed on their religious beliefs but were denied.

Dateline: Virginia

A soldier who stole a tank tweeted photos of himself during the incident. An NBC affiliate in Richmond, Va., reports a member of the Virginia National Guard, Joshua Philip Yabut, was arrested last week after he allegedly stole an armored personnel carrier (APC) from Fort Pickett and drove it through downtown Richmond. During the incident, Yabul tweeted photos and video of himself inside the vehicle. After leading police on a chase around the city, he surrendered and was taken into custody. Police said Yabut appeared to have dilated pupils and was unsteady on his feet. He was charged with driving under the influence of drugs, felony eluding and a felony count of unauthorized use of a vehicle. In an interview with Associated Press, Yabut claimed he had been authorized to use the vehicle as part of an exercise to “gauge police response.” He claimed he was not under the influence of drugs and that some of the charges against him were “just bogus.” The Virginia National Guard said Yabut was not authorized to drive off base and there was no exercise. They are conducting an internal investigation into the incident.

Compiled by Joshua Lee. Email your weird news to josh@alibi.com.