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Featured January 6, 2023

New Search Engine EVRTHN Crawls Comedy Clubs and Raves in the Metaverse

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New Search Engine EVRTHN Crawls Comedy Clubs and Raves in the Metaverse
A metaverse seen from above, as imagined by AI (Midjourney).

Evrthn.com (pronounced everything) is a new search engine targeting the metaverse with a promise to deliver more detailed search results, particularly for non-text metaverse (XR) content. This is an area in which dominant competitor Google is considered to be lagging.

Creator Herval Freire, who worked at Facebook for two years and scaled up its end-to-end encryption services, told MetaNews that existing search engines, including Google, were selling users short on metaverse content.

Also read: Is the New AI Search You.com Better than Google?

“Our mission is to make all the metaverse content (from items within World of Warcraft to clubs and raves in VRChat) easily accessible to everyone,” said the software engineer who also worked for Twitter and WeWork.

“It started out as something for personal usage – we were trying to find standup comedy in virtual reality [VR], and we couldn’t really find it. Then a friend sent me a campaign about how Heineken is now in Decentraland, and guess what – you can’t find it either!”

“Discovering good content seems to be a pain across the industry, so this is our attempt at helping finding cool content a little bit easier,” Freire wrote in LinkedIn post.

What is Evrthn.com?

Evrthn.com offers free-to-use search and allows users to find events, venues, video games and people across the entire metaverse. Users are asked to create an account, which can help to narrow searches based on one’s preferences, as well as provide access to “communities”. It lists metaverse get-togethers such as Raves, Events, Communities, Apps & Games and so on.

New Search Engine EVRTHN Crawls Comedy Clubs and Raves in the Metaverse

Evrthn.com. This is an overview of ongoing raves in the metaverse.

“[With] personal profiles, you can setup an account with just an email (no social logins or passwords required),” Freire said in a LinkedIn post. “[You can] create lists for all the virtual reality content you find cool – as your own private bookmarks or to share with others!”

“We’re starting out focused on VRChat and AltspaceVR, due to the ridiculous amount of content available on those platforms. But you’ll notice there’s also content from other sites in the platform too – news, games, assets for sale in multiple sites, etc,” he added.

Evrthn’s coverage has now grown to include RecRoom, Decentraland, Monaverse, MetaQuest games on the official store, SideQuest and Itch, Freire said. Evrthn was launched six months ago. The company was founded as a unit of Labyrinth Labs Inc. in July 2022, a metaverse-focused firm Freire also founded

Most search engines such as Google save your search history in a profile that the company uses to filter results based on user activity to create targeted ads. The feature may be useful for most users, but it also comes across as a form of tracking, threatening user privacy.

Not many users, yet

Evrthn runs a proprietary crawling stack that works for hyperlinked content (the same kind of infrastructure that Google or other web engines use), said Freire. The firm has also created special crawlers to consume 3D content/assets and APIs from several partners.

Data intelligence firm SimilarWeb reports that the number of people visiting Evrthn.com over the last month averaged under 5,000. The company pointed out that it “does not present data for websites with < 5K estimated visits for the last month.”

“Only data verified by Google Analytics will be displayed,” it said. So there was no data related to issues such as Evrthn’s audience composition, the countries sending the most traffic or the type of stuff that people search for the most. About his company’s reach, Freire said:

“We monitor over half a million rooms, assets, games and apps, and the amount of content is growing exponentially.”

Trying out Evrthn.com

Search the term “metaverse” on both Google and Evrthn, and the first page of the results are completely different. While the Google search engine leads with a Wikipedia entry, links to popular gaming metaverses, news articles and social media feeds, Evrthn’s results are much narrower.

The budding search engine leads with results in grid form of metaverse experiences cutting across culture and gaming, a bit of news and events. Google certainly offers more variety and resources about the metaverse – but Evrthn gives you the actual metaverse experience. Or at least links that take you to actual, existing metaverses and metaverse-specific content.

Like Google, which pushes adverts for profit, it also felt as though Evrthn.com was blatantly pushing me into buying something, a video game. Its home page lists a few games for sale. And a few extra searches brought up more games on sale, for as low as $4.99.

One such game is Magitek VR, a so–called “magic adventure game that uses physics driven spells based on the four elements,” which is going for $15. When you click on the Magitek link you get redirected to SideQuest, the early access layer for virtual reality, where the content is sold.

It is not clear whether Evrthn takes a cut from the sales. However, the company will have to do more to challenge Google’s dominance in the search business. Freire, the Evrthn founder, hopes to take advantage of Google’s limits in providing non-text metaverse content.

“Keeping up to date with all that content is difficult,” Freire said. “There’s a lot that one cannot easily find [on Google] – content inside social VR platforms, assets (avatars, skins, etc) and live events are hard to find since there’s no other search index out there that covers them.”

Beyond search engine

New Search Engine EVRTHN Crawls Comedy Clubs and Raves in the Metaverse

Herval Freire sees Evrthn growing beyond just being a search engine. “Although we started with a ‘search engine’, we want Evrthn to be an essential tool for content discovery and navigation in the metaverse,” Freire told MetaNews.

The software engineer said his company is working on providing users with “better ways” to organize and manage their own metaverse activities, such as creating and hosting events, managing their virtual goods and assets.

There are a number of upcoming search engines competing for a stake in the metaverse, a burgeoning multi-billion-dollar industry seen by many as the future of human interactions. It includes Hyperpeach, which is in beta, and Nvidia’s artificial intelligence-powered DeepSearch. In May, Canadian company Lighthouse Labs announced it had raised $7 million to build a search engine focused on the metaverse.

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Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney.

Featured

Americans Turn to Artificial Intelligence to Curb Gun Violence

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Americans Turn to Artificial Intelligence to Curb Gun Violence
Is this how the curbing will be done?

The alarming rate of gun violence in the United States in 2023 has led to increased calls for more gun safety measures. But with that unlikely to happen anytime soon, individuals and organizations have been turning to other alternatives, including artificial intelligence (AI).

In recent years, artificial intelligence has emerged as one of the possible solutions. The growing interest in the technology is primarily due to its promise of detecting shooters and preventing violence.

The CEO of Omnilert, a security company, Dave Fraser, said the technology represents a breakthrough in how AI is used to further human protection.

How AI helps

Most of the technologies currently offered by security companies using AI rely on detection by using high-tech cameras to identify suspects, predictive algorithms that flag potential shooters, and metal detectors capable of seeing hidden guns.

According to companies in the sector, using security cameras equipped with AI can make up for the errors of security officers. Watching multiple video screens while trying to identify threats leaves margins for error.

But artificial intelligence boasts better accuracy, distinguishing between identifying potential mass shooters minutes or seconds before they strike.

Given how ubiquitous security cameras are today, improving them with AI to become more effective in preventing mass shootings seems like a no-brainer.

The challenges

But some experts are concerned about how the impacts on privacy, especially since the effectiveness of the products remains questionable. Most AI security companies don’t provide independently verified data about the accuracy of their products.

Speaking to ABC News, the senior policy analyst at ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, Jay Stanley, said:

“If you’re going to trade your privacy and freedom for security, the first question you need to ask is: Are you getting a good deal?”

Besides that, a lawyer for the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, Jake Wiener, said:

‘The biggest concern with these systems is false positives when the system wrongly identifies someone who isn’t actually holding a gun.”

A false positive is a situation where an innocent individual can be wrongly profiled as a mass shooter.

Market rises for AI tools

But such misgivings are unlikely to deter interest in the sector. The high rate of mass shootings in recent years has led potential targets, such as schools, offices, retailers, etc., to consider AI security.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics show that 83% of public schools use security cameras as of the 2017-18 school year. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has recently begun an artificial intelligence-based gun detection program.

With the rising interest, Future Market Insights projects that the market for high-tech products capable of detecting concealed weapons will be worth $1.2 billion by 2031, almost twice the $630 million it was in 2022.

Meanwhile, several companies are already establishing themselves in the sector. One of them is Austin-based Scylla which offers AI that helps security cameras identify concealed weapons and suspicious activity.

Gun Detection Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI gun detection (Source: Scylla)

The system notifies officials when it identifies any threat and can immediately lock doors and deny access. The vice president of the company Kris Greiner noted that such a system could have a significant impact on ensuring safety. Other companies, such as Zero Eyes, focus on gun detection.

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China Catches Up On Quantum Computers, Makes 1st Delivery

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China Catches Up On Quantum Computers, Makes 1st Delivery

China has officially caught up with Canada and USA in the race to deliver a complete quantum computer system to a customer according to a state media report.

Chinese quantum computing company, Origin Quantum Computing Technology developed a 24-qubit Wuyuan system before delivery to an unknown user more than a year ago, the science ministry’s Science and Technology Daily reported.

Also read: How AI Can Accelerate Metaverse Development

According to Origin Quantum, they are the only Chinese company in the quantum computing industry that can deliver real quantum computers as well as full-stack development and follow up services.

According to a statement sent to the Global Times on Monday by East China’s Anhui Province based Quantum Computing Research Centre, the group developed the computer and successfully delivered it to a user.

“More than 100 quantum computing companies in the world have put enormous investment into quantum research and development. Canada’s quantum computing company sold its first quantum computer in 2011, followed by IBM of the US in 2019.

“Chinese Origin Quantum delivered a quantum computer in 2021,” Zhang Hui, director of the Anhui Quantum Computing Engineering Research Center was quoted as saying.

Eyebrow raising announcement

The announcement by Chinese state media has raised eyebrows among skeptics questioning its timing.

Weifeng Zhong, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va told TechNewsWorld that this could be a gimmick to just show China as a tech giant with a transparent administration.

“Quantum technology has a high priority for national security in China. If this were something very important, I doubt it would be disclosed like this in a transparent way by Chinese authorities,” explained Zhong.

“The fact that it was delayed for a year suggests that they realize now that it’s not important to national security, so they’re trying to use it to build China’s image as a technology leader at a time when they’re trying to open up their economy to the rest of the world,” added Zhong.

But what is quantum computing?

A quantum computer is a type of computer that uses quantum mechanics to store and process data, as opposed to classical computers that use classical mechanics. Quantum computers use quantum bits (qubits), which can exist in multiple states at once, to perform computations that are not possible on classical computers, making them particularly well-suited for certain types of complex calculations.

The  24-qubit Wuyuan quantum computer based on superconducting technology developed by the same company  becomes the third to be delivered to customers after Canada in 2011 and USA’s IBM in 2019.

Superconducting technology is currently one of the most mature and well-developed implementations of quantum computing, and many companies and research organizations are working to develop and commercialize superconducting quantum computers. Superconducting technology is one of the main implementations of quantum computing.

In superconducting quantum computers, quantum bits (qubits) are made from tiny electrical circuits that are cooled to very low temperatures, close to absolute zero, in order to minimize the amount of thermal energy and increase their coherence time, which is the time during which a qubit can maintain its quantum state.

What does China offer in its quantum computers

Speed: Quantum computers can perform certain operations much faster than classical computers, which can greatly speed up complex computations.

Parallel processing: Quantum computers can perform multiple calculations simultaneously, which allows for more efficient processing of large amounts of data.

Simulating complex systems: Quantum computers can be used to simulate complex systems, such as molecules and materials, which can lead to new discoveries in fields such as chemistry and materials science.

Cryptography: Quantum computers can be used to break certain encryption algorithms, which makes them useful for developing new, more secure encryption methods.

Optimization problems: Quantum computers can be used to solve complex optimization problems, such as logistics and scheduling problems, which have many potential real-world applications.

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Featured

OpenAI Develops Tool to Spot AI-Written Texts

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OpenAI Develops Tool to Spot AI-Written Texts

OpenAI, the startup behind ChatGPT, has released a free web-based plagiarism checker to determine whether machines or humans wrote a text.

According to OpenAI, the web-based tool is not entirely accurate. Its performance will depend on the similarity between the analyzed text and the writing that OpenAI tools are trained to write.

Speaking about the tool, OpenAI’s CTO Mira Murati said the new tool is “not perfect, but it’s a step forward in distinguishing between AI and human-written text.” She added that the company was looking forward to reviews from its users.

ChatGPT’s soaring start

Since OpenAI launched ChaGPT last year, the ability of the AI tool to create spontaneous texts that look very similar to what a human would write has garnered it much acclaim. But not all of the attention has been positive.

Several stakeholders have expressed concerns about increased AI-generated misinformation. Educators are also concerned that students might start relying on AI tools and submitting plagiarized works. This has led some school districts to ban ChatGPT on their networks.

But these bans don’t have much effect on preventing the usage of ChatGPT for academic plagiarism. With the new tool from OpenAI, educators might finally have the necessary detection equipment.

How OpenAI’s tool will work

According to the company, the new tool works best on text samples in English and above 1,000 characters. It has a five-point system to measure an AI system’s likelihood of texts being generated. Apart from OpenAI, several other individuals and organizations are also working on similar tools.

Concerns about AI texts rise

Meanwhile, concerns about AI writing tools are not limited to educators. There are also concerns in some circles that the rapid development of AI writing tools might soon deprive writers of jobs as companies will opt for cheaper automation options.

A Fortune article from December 2022 predicted that ChatGPT and AI tools might take not only the jobs of writers but also has the potential to replace programmers. ChatGPT can convert human prompts into codes in several programming languages.

Will AI make writers jobless?

Expert writers believe that AI writing tools can create coherent texts based on a set of rules. It will forever remain inferior to humans when it comes to creativity.

The songwriter Nick Cave shares this view. In response to a fan who sent him a song written by ChatGPT in the style of Nick Cave, he noted that he was not enthusiastic about the new technology. He said that songs arise from a “complex, internal human struggle of creation,” which algorithms can’t feel.

He added:

“I understand that ChatGPT is in its infancy, but perhaps that is the emerging horror of AI – that it will forever be in its infancy, as it will always have further to go.”

However, some writers are more welcoming and believe that AI technologies can serve as collaborative tools for writers and help them produce something new and exciting.

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