Berkeley Libraries: Fiat Blocks: Students use Minecraft to build UC Berkeley (and its libraries) in stunning detail. “Imagine a place where social distancing isn’t necessary — where you can gather with friends and resume life as normal, as if COVID-19 and the chaos it has wrought were but a distant memory. Such a place actually exists — and, no, it’s not Georgia. Enter Blockeley University, a student-led effort to build, one block at a time, the UC Berkeley campus on Minecraft, the wildly imaginative (and massively popular) video game. In the expertly crafted virtual world, you can walk through Sather Gate, gaze upon the iconic Campanile, encounter campus’s ubiquitous Kiwibots, and spot Berkeley’s famed peregrine falcons. And, even amid the closures, you can soak in the architectural glory of the campus’s libraries.”
Berkeley Haas: Open-source smartphone database offers a new tool for tracking coronavirus exposure. “The Covid-19 Exposure Indices, created by Berkeley Haas Asst. Prof. Victor Couture and researchers from Yale, Princeton, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with location data company PlaceIQ, is aimed at academic investigators studying the spread of the pandemic. The data sets allow researchers to visualize how people can potentially be exposed to those infected with the virus, based on cell-phone movements to and from businesses and other locations where a great deal of the exposure happens.”
Berkeley News: New live online COVID-19 series connects experts with public. “Across the UC Berkeley campus, researchers are rising to meet the complex challenges of COVID-19, even as the crisis generates waves of news and information that can be confusing and contradictory at times. In response, the university is launching a new online video series, ‘Berkeley Conversations: COVID-19,’ to connect our experts with the public and each other. Through Q&As, seminars, and panel discussions, faculty from a wide range of disciplines – from epidemiology to economics to the computing and data now undergirding their work – will share what they know, and what they are learning.”
Berkeley Engineering: UC Berkeley professor influences Facebook’s efforts to combat deepfakes . “Hany Farid, a Berkeley professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, was one of the researchers Facebook approached last year. The company ultimately invested $7.5 million with Berkeley, Cornell University and the University of Maryland to develop technology to spot the deepfakes. In a brief interview, Farid, who has a joint appointment at the School of Information, said manipulated videos, which often portray politicians and celebrities saying or doing things they didn’t do, pose a serious threat to society.”
Berkeley Library News: Rock ‘n’ roll, clowns, and Roberta Flack: An inside look at a massive new collection of music photography at The Bancroft Library. “Looking through the photographs is like flipping through stacks of vinyl at Amoeba Music, a satisfying exercise in nostalgia. Scanning through the folders, you’ll see Judy Collins, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young, and so many in between… The photographs, 60,000 in all, make up the Howard Brainen photo archive. A recent gift to Bancroft, the archive is a time machine into a moment in music history, offering a glimpse into the local scene and the larger-than-life figures who came through the Bay Area.” It’s worth reading the article just to see the pictures included with it.
CNET: Adobe AI can spot facial manipulations in Photoshop. “In a world filled with manipulated photos, deepfakes and even totally fake human faces, Adobe says it’s working on an artificial intelligence tool to spot fake images. Citing ‘the ethical implications’ of Photoshop, Adobe partnered with researchers from the University of California at Berkeley to work on the issue.”
Berkeley News: New online strategy game advances the science of nuclear security. “Love military strategy games like Risk and Diplomacy? Try SIGNAL, a new online game that lets you satisfy your appetite for virtual global domination while simultaneously helping researchers understand the risks of real-world nuclear conflict.”