Here's a weekly recap of what made news in the world of science and technology.
The US space agency Nasa’s Curiosity rover completed 4,000 Martian days on the red planet on 6 November, having set its wheels in the Gale crater on 5 August 2012. The car-sized rover, launched in November 2011, had a two-year mission that was subsequently extended. According to Nasa, the rover recently drilled its 39th sample, then “dropped the pulverized rock into its belly” for detailed analysis. The rover has driven almost 32km through a harsh environment of dust and radiation since 2012. Nasa said on its website that Curiosity remains strong and the mission team is making sure the robotic scientist—now in its fourth extended mission—remains so “despite wear and tear from its 11-year journey”.
A new study by the cybersecurity company McAfee has found that Indians receive nearly 12 fake or scam messages each day via email, text or social media and spend roughly 105 minutes (around 1.8 hours) each week reviewing, verifying or deciding whether these messages are real or fake. Released on 8 November, the 2023 McAfee Scam Message Study assessed the impact of rising Artificial Intelligence-driven message scams on consumers worldwide. The study surveyed more than 7,000 adults in seven countries, including India. The study found almost 82% of Indians have clicked or fallen for these fake messages, with most of them falling for fake job notifications or offers (64%) and bank alert messages (52%).
2023 is set to be the world’s warmest in 125,000 years, European Union (EU) scientists said on 8 November. Data from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, which provides climate information about Europe and the rest of the world, showed that last month was the hottest October on record by a massive margin. According to a Reuters report, last month exceeded the previous highest October average temperature, from 2019, by 0.4 degree Celsius. The Copernicus Climate Change Service’s deputy director, Samantha Burgess, described the temperature anomaly as “very extreme”. The climate service said 2023 was “virtually certain” to be the hottest year on record. According to the Reuters report, the heat is a result of continued greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, combined with the emergence this year of the naturally occurring El Niño climate pattern.
ChatGPT users will soon be able to make their own customised AI chatbots, American company OpenAI said at its first developer conference on 6 November. These tailor-made versions of ChatGPT, called GPTs, will combine instructions, extra knowledge, and any combination of skills to help users at specific tasks in their daily lives, at work or at home. “For example, GPTs can help you learn the rules to any board game, help teach your kids math, or design stickers,” the company announced. OpenAI also announced a marketplace, GPT Store, where users will be able to share GPTs publicly. At the event, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman also unveiled the new GPT-4 Turbo model that is “smarter”, more capable and has knowledge of world events up to April 2023. It has a 128k context window so it can fit the equivalent of more than 300 pages of text in a single prompt, OpenAI said in a blog post.
New York-based Rockstar Games, makers of the popular open-world video game Grand Theft Auto (GTA), announced on 8 November that the trailer of the next GTA game will be released in December. “Next month marks the 25th anniversary of Rockstar Games.... We are very excited to let you know that in early December, we will release the first trailer for the next Grand Theft Auto,” Rockstar Games founder Sam Houser said in a statement on their website. As an AFP report explained, fans of the franchise have been waiting almost a decade for it. GTA’s first edition was released in 1997 and the most recent version, Grand Theft Auto V, has sold more than 185 million copies since its release in 2013.
(With inputs from agencies)