The Genderless Digital Voice the World Needs Right Now

Boot up the options for your digital voice assistant of choice and you’re likely to find two options for the gender you prefer interacting with: male or female. The problem is, that binary choice isn’t an accurate representation of the complexities of gender. Some folks don’t identify as either male or female, and they may want their voice assistant to mirror that identity. As of now, they’re out of luck. But a group of linguists, technologists, and sound designers—led by Copenhagen Pride and Vice's creative agency Virtue—are on a quest to change that with a new, genderless digital voice, made from real voices, called Q. Q isn’t going to show up in your smartphone tomorrow, but the idea is to …

The Fish on Your Plate May Not Be What You Ordered

This story was originally published by HuffPost and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. If you eat seafood, even occasionally, there’s a good chance you’ve been served a fish species you didn’t order. A new months-long investigation by ocean advocacy group Oceana finds widespread and persistent fraud in the US seafood industry. The organization tested 449 fish from more than 250 restaurants, seafood markets, and grocery stores across the country and found that 21 percent of samples were mislabeled. In two restaurants in Florida, cheap imported Asian catfish and spinycheek grouper, a species found only in the Indian Ocean, were sold as hogfish. In Washington, DC, sea bass on a restaurant menu turned out to be …

As the World Warms, Clouds Could DisappearCatastrophically

In a 1987 voyage to the Antarctic, the paleoceanographer James Kennett and his crew dropped anchor in the Weddell Sea, drilled into the seabed, and extracted a vertical cylinder of sediment. In an inch-thick layer of plankton fossils and other detritus buried more than 500 feet deep, they found a disturbing clue about the planet’s past that could spell disaster for the future. Lower in the sediment core, fossils abounded from 60 plankton species. But in that thin cross-section from about 56 million years ago, the number of species dropped to 17. And the planktons’ oxygen and carbon isotope compositions had dramatically changed. Kennett and his student Lowell Stott deduced from the anomalous isotopes that carbon dioxide had flooded the …