Science & Technology

Science and technology news

Artificial intelligence is one of those tech terms that seems to inevitably conjure up images (and jokes) of computer overlords running sci-fi dystopias — or, more recently, robots taking over human jobs.

But AI is already here: It's powering your voice-activated digital personal assistants and Web searches, guiding automated features on your car and translating foreign texts, detecting your friends in photos you post on social media and filtering your spam.

A new study of violent behavior in more than 1,000 mammal species found the meerkat is the mammal most likely to be murdered by one of its own kind.

The study, led by José María Gómez of the University of Grenada in Spain and published Wednesday in the journal Nature, analyzed more than 4 million deaths among 1,024 mammal species and compared them with findings in 600 studies of violence among humans from ancient times until today.

The findings tell us two things:

There are less than 500 North Atlantic right whales left in the world. And now, one less: This weekend, one of the 45-ton creatures was found dead off the coast of Maine, completely entangled in fishing line — head, flippers and all.

This was not an isolated incident.

Commercial trade of pangolins, the aardvark-like mammal that is the world's most-trafficked animal, has been officially banned by the international body responsible for regulating the international trade of endangered species.

First, a story:

Late one night, a man searches for something in a parking lot. On his hands and knees, he crawls around a bright circle of light created by a streetlamp overhead.

A woman passes, stops, takes in the scene.

"What are you looking for? Can I help?"

"My car keys. Any chance you've seen them?"

"You dropped them right around here?"

"Oh, no. I dropped them way over there," he says, gesturing vaguely to some faraway spot on the other side of the lot.

"Then why are you looking here?"

The man pauses to consider the question.

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